Client Care & Complaints Policy
We seek to provide a high quality service to all our clients, provide value for money and comply with the Practice Management Standards of the Bar Council in all our dealings with lay/ professional clients. We accept instructions only under the “New Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012” unless otherwise agreed in writing. If at any time you experience any difficulty in your dealings with any member of chambers, any member of staff or have any comments to offer please contact me. Chambers complies with Equal Opportunities legislation, welcomes all and seeks to secure the best outcome for its clients. A copy of our Equal Opportunities Policy is available upon request from the clerks. As a set of chambers we welcome and take seriously all comments from clients and have the appropriate internal procedures for addressing any concerns.
Reservation of Counsel
We do not double-book Counsel unless you are informed when making your own booking that yours is a “second” booking and you agree to take the attendant risk of a change of counsel. If for any unexpected reason it appears there will be any difficulty with Counsel not being able to appear in any case for which you have reserved them, we shall inform you immediately of the reason and will take all possible steps to provide you with acceptable alternative Counsel.
Delivery of Briefs
We ask for briefs to be deemed delivered in advance of hearings when either all or a proportion of the brief fee will be incurred. We will agree dates with you for the stages you incur the balance of the brief fee. It depends on the seniority of Counsel and the complexity of the matter as to the time scales for delivery of briefs. We will discuss this with you in each individual case, but as a rough working guide, in leading cases we ask for Counsel’s brief to be deemed delivered at least one month in advance of hearings and where you are instructing senior juniors, it is usually two to three weeks in advance.
Whilst we have wheelchair access to chambers, conferences can be arranged at your offices or elsewhere particularly to cater for disabilities.
We generally expect that paperwork will be returned within four weeks from receipt unless some other timescale is agreed with you. If there is a risk that Counsel will not be able to comply with those time limits we will inform you accordingly.
The clerks will be pleased to discuss respective charging rates for the various members of chambers and to give an indication of fees for any particular piece of work in advance of the work being done. For FDR’s and certain other types of work our normal practice is to agree a fee to cover the preparation and the estimated time of the hearing with an hourly charge being incurred additionally after that time has elapsed. We of course treat all cases on their own merits.
It is chambers usual practice to expect Counsel’s fees to be paid within one month of receipt of fee note. Clients are asked to inform us if this is not possible so that other arrangements can be made and confirmed in writing. In accordance with the Bar Council’s recommendation, Chambers reserves the right to charge interest on fees unpaid after one month from the rendering of a fee note where no extension from that time has been agreed.
Complaints information for Lay Clients
Our aim is to give you a good service at all times. However if you wish to make a complaint, you are invited to contact us about it 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.
Complaints by non-clients
It should be noted that it might not always be possible to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. Complaints of this nature are often better suited to the disciplinary processes maintained by the Bar Standards Board. Chambers will make an initial assessment of any complaint by a non-client and, if it is felt that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through the Chambers complaints process, such a complainant will be referred to the Bar Standards Board.
Our Chambers has a Complaints Panel made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, which considers any complaint. Within two days of your letter being received the head of the panel (or their deputy in their absence) will appoint a member of the panel to investigate it.
Complaint by telephone
Please telephone Mr Lewis Marks QC, who is the individual nominated under the Chambers Complaints Procedure to deal with complaints; or, if the complaint is about a member of staff, the senior clerk, Mr Howard Rayner. If your complaint is against the head of the panel, the next most senior member of the panel will investigate it. If the complaint is about the senior clerk, please telephone the Head of Chambers Tim Amos QC. In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. He/she will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved he/she will record the outcome, check that you are satisfied with the outcome and record that you are satisfied.
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.
Complaint by letter
It is usually preferable for a complaint to be made by letter, so that an unambiguous record may be kept. Please provide the following details:
- 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.
Please address your letter to
Chambers of Tim Amos QC,
Queen Elizabeth Building,
London, EC4Y 9BS.
Someone will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two days. Someone will be appointed within those two days to deal with your complaint. If you do not hear from us shortly thereafter, please contact us by telephone.
The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know that he/she has been appointed, and that he/she will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If he/ she finds later that he/she is not going to be able to reply within this timescale, he/she will set a new date for his reply and inform you.
His/her reply will set out:
- The nature and scope of their investigation;
- Their conclusion on each complaint and the basis for their conclusion; and
- If they find that you are justified in your complaint, their proposals for resolving the complaint.
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 or member of 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.
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 committee inspects an anonymised record regularly with a view to improving services.
The Legal Ombudsman
We hope that you will use our procedure. However, if you are unhappy with the outcome, you may take up your complaint at the conclusion of Chambers’ consideration of your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for complaints about lawyers. The Ombudsman is not able to investigate your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers.
Normally complainants must refer a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six years from the act/omission occurring or three years from when they should have reasonably known it had occurred. Despite this time limit, the Legal Ombudsman will not normally accept complaints about an act or omission before 5 October 2010.
The Ombudsman will also only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from a barrister’s client are within their jurisdiction. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of the Chambers’ investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
You can contact the Legal Ombudsman at:
P O Box 6806
Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
If calling from abroad: +44 121 245 3050 Email: [email protected]
You can contact the BSB at:
Bar Standards Board
289-293 High Holborn
London WC1V 7HZ
Telephone: 020 7611 1444
The Barrister’s Register
The Register is an online database which displays details of all barristers who are authorised to practise in England and Wales and who have a current practising certificate. The register will display the dates for which a barrister’s practising certificate is valid. It includes information about barristers’ practising status, their practising address, the reserved legal activities they are authorised to undertake and whether they have been the subject of any disciplinary findings which are published on the RSB website in accordance with their current policy.