Our aim is to give you a good service at all times. However if you have a complaint we ask you to let us know as soon as possible. It is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint but you are free to do so should you wish.
Please note that Chambers will only consider complaints that are raised within six months of the act or omission complained of.
Complaints made by telephone
1. You may wish to make a complaint in writing; if so, please follow the procedure in paragraphs 4 and 5 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone the individual nominated under the Chambers Complaints Procedure to deal with complaints which is the Chief Executive Officer. If the complaint is about the Chief Executive Officer, telephone the Head of Chambers or the Deputy Head of Chambers. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. S/he will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved s/he will record the outcome, check that you are satisfied with the outcome and record that you are satisfied. You may also wish to record the outcome of the telephone discussion in writing.
2. If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be invited to write to us about it within the next 14 days so it can be investigated formally.
3. Please give the following details:
Complaints made in writing
- Your name and address;
- Which member(s) of Chambers you are complaining about;
- The detail of the complaint; and
- What you would like done about it.
4. Please address your letter to the Chief Executive, St John’s Chambers, 101 Victoria Street, Bristol, BS1 6PU. We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
5. Our Chambers has a panel headed by the Chief Executive and made up of experienced members of Chambers which considers any written complaint. Within 14 days of your letter being received the head of the panel or her/his deputy in her/his absence will appoint a member of the panel to investigate it. If your complaint is against the head of the panel, the next most senior member of the panel will investigate it. In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.
6. The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know s/he has been appointed and that s/he will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If s/he finds later that s/he is not going to be able to reply within 14 days s/he will set a new date for her/his reply and inform you. Her/his reply will set out:
- The nature and scope of her/his investigation;
- Her/his conclusion on each complaint and the basis for her/his conclusion; and
- If she/he finds that you are justified in your complaint, her/his proposals for resolving the complaint.
7. All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that is necessary. Disclosure will be to the head of chambers, members of our management committee and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the barrister member or staff who you have complained about, the head or relevant senior member of the panel and the person who investigates the complaint. The Bar Standards Board is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its auditing and monitoring functions.
8. As part of our commitment to client care we make a written record of any complaint and retain all documents and correspondence generated by the complaint for a period of six years. Our Management Board inspects an anonymised record regularly with a view to improving services.
Barristers at St John’s Chambers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and hold current practising certificates. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, please read below.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman Scheme
On 6 October 2010, the new Legal Ombudsman Scheme came into effect. This means that service (not misconduct) complaints by individuals and some non-commercial bodies against barristers must be made to and considered by the Legal Ombudsman, and not to and by the Bar Standards Complaint’s Committee. This includes complaints about matters occurring prior to 6 October 2010.
If it has not been possible to settle your complaint using our internal complaints process, alternative complaints bodies (such as Small Claims Mediation) exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and your barrister wish to use such a scheme.
Any complaints of misconduct (that is, breach of the Code of Conduct) should be made to the BSB as the Legal Ombudsman will not entertain that aspect of any complaints. If any misconduct issue arises during the investigation of a complaint by the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman will refer the misconduct issue to the BSB.
We hope that you will use our procedure. However, if you would rather not do so or are unhappy with the outcome you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman Scheme at any time. Please note that from the 1 February 2013 a complainant must refer a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within a) six years from the act/omission; or b) three year from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint without taking advice from a third party; whichever is later.
For complaints regarding misconduct, please contact:
Bar Standards Board
289-293 High Holborn
Tel: 020 7611 1444
Fax: 020 7831 9217
See also: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk
For complaints regarding service, please contact:
PO Box 6806
Tel: 0300 555 0333 (please note all calls will be recorded)
See also: www.legalombudsman.org.uk