MAKING A COMPLAINT
While I appreciate that a client may not be satisfied with the outcome of their matter it is not automatically the fault of the Barrister. On the other hand, there may be a legitimate reason for a client to complain about a barrister.
COMPLAINTS MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN 6 MONTHS
A formal complaint must be properly received within 6 months on the appropriate form. In the event that a complaint is made after 6 months of the Barrister representing a client, I reserve the right to consider the complaint out of time, the client having taken excessively long to make the complaint. The view is that if I am genuinely in the wrong, a reasonable client will engage with me as soon as possible.
If you instructed a solicitor, then you must contact you solicitor as soon as possible and ask them to formally complain on your behalf.
WHY WON’T MY SOLICITOR COMPLAIN
It may be that, in your solicitor’s opinion, there is no reason to complain about me. In that case you need to engage with your solicitor’s firm’s complaints procedure. This is called the 1stTier of the process.
WHAT IS THE 1stTIER
This is where your complaint formally starts. Writing letters or complaining on the telephone or even setting out a list of grievances in an email does not trigger a complaint. A compliant must be formal, in writing and set out in some detail exactly why you are unhappy.
WHY MUST YOU DO THIS
As I am a sole practitioner, a complaint may be dealt with by an independent Barrister whom I will ask to review the matter. It may be reviewed later if it is escalated to the 2ndTier (Usually the legal ombudsman or professional body that governs the person that you are complaining about). Therefore, more than one person may review your complaint. Putting it in writing means that a single narrative will be available to all parties to read, you will get a written response and if you choose to invoke your rights to engage with someone at the 2ndTier level. 2ndTier people will refer you back to the 1st Tier if you have not followed procedure. For example, if you complain directly to me and I was instructed through your solicitor then in this example the solicitor is on the 1stTier of the process and not for me to deal with. It is only where the client instructs a me via Public Access that such a complaint is the 1stTier.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU WILL BE TREATED FAIRLY?
I will ask another barrister to review the complaint. I may also ask a Barrister and another professional person (such as a solicitor) to deal with your complaint. This is not an automatic right and such measures are taken at my discretion.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Complaints will be dealt with as quickly as possible. You will normally receive a telephone call within 3 working days if you wish to discuss a matter before making a formal complaint. If you submit a written complaint, then you should receive a written response within 28 working days. If an outside panel is convened, then it may take longer or if the Barrister is asked to respond in writing it may take a little more time than is usually anticipated. If there is a delay in the process you will be notified in writing.
PUBLIC ACCESS CLIENTS
If you instructed the me through the public access system you must, as soon as possible, set your compliant out in writing and send it to me.
THE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE IS:
1. Contact me. Perhaps, an explanation or some other action such as an apology may be sufficient to resolve the matter. Just because you did not get the result that you expected does not mean that I am at fault. The Judge may have taken a different view on your case than was expected even by me. There may be another legal avenue open to you such as an appeal. If you automatically complain against me, I cannot help you further on the matter and you cannot instruct me on new work. This is because you have placed me in a position where I am now professionally conflicted.
2. In the first instance, every effort is made to engage with the parties and hear both sides of the story.
3. Where possible an amicable solution is sought and in appropriate cases this may amount to an apology from one or of the all parties.
4. Unless I receive a formal written complaint in writing no further action is taken. Barristers are a self-regulating profession and, in terms of the rules, they themselves have a duty to “self-report” any unethical conduct. It is only in exceptional circumstances that a fellow member of the profession has a duty to report another Barrister to the Bar Standards Board.
5. On receipt of a complaint, I will review the complaint and any evidence and make a formal determination. Parties may be invited to give viva voca(oral evidence). The panel may also request further written submissions from the Complainant.
6. Once a matter has been adjudicated and if it goes against the Barrister, a recommendation is made. This may include:
6.1. An apology to the Complainant (written or oral or both)
6.2. A return of fees
6.3. If the infraction is deemed serious, the finding is reported to the BSB
7. The findings are then sent to the complainant in writing and the matter is deemed closed from my point of view.
8. If you are not happy with the outcome, then you have the right to take the matter up with the legal Ombudsman, in certain circumstances.
Please read their guidelines.
THE LEGAL OMBUDSMAN
The time limit for a client to complain to the Legal Ombudsman remains six months from the end of the solicitors or my complaints process.
More information about the Legal Ombudsman may be found here
PO Box 6806