How to make a complaint
There are two ways you can make a complaint - by telephone or in writing.
1. A complaint may be made just by calling the Senior Clerk on 01782 286666.
If the complaint relates to a clerk please ask to speak to either Head of Chambers.
The person that takes your call will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like to have done about it.
We will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved we 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.
If we cannot resolve your complaint on the telephone we will invite you to write to us so it can be investigated using our written complaints procedure.
Making a Written Complaint
2. Please address your letter to :
Paul Cliff or Edward Palmer,
The Complaints Panel, Regent Chambers, 3 Pall Mall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 1HP.
Please give 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.
We will send confirmation of the receipt of your complaint within two working days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
What happens next?
3. We operate a panel headed by Paul Cliff and made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, which considers any written complaint.
Within 14 days of your letter being received the head of the panel or his deputy in 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.
You will be told within 14 days who is investigating your complaint.
Usually within 14 days of that letter the person appointed to investigate your complaint will send a written response to you indicating :
• The nature and extent of the investigation;
• His conclusion on each complaint and the reasons for that conclusion; and
• If he finds that you are justified in your complaint, his proposals for resolving the complaint.
(If we need longer to investigate we will explain why and when we expect to complete the process)
4. 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(s) 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.
5. 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.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
6. If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation and you fall within their jurisdiction you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for complaints about lawyers, at the conclusion of our consideration of your complaint. The Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers. Please note that time limits apply.
You can write to them at:
PO Box 6806,
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
Ombudsman Time Limits
7. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has time limits in which a complaint must be raised with them. The time limits are:
a) Six years from the date of the act/omission
b) Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before the 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago)
c) Within six months of receiving our response (if that response includes an explanation that a complaint can still be made to the Ombudsman within six months if you are still unhappy).
The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances.
We will have regard to the time limits when deciding whether we are able to investigate your complaint. Chambers will not usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman's time limits.
8. The Ombudsman only deals with complaints from the barrister's client. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of our investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
It should be noted that it may not always be possible to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. This is because the ability of Chambers to satisfactorily investigate and resolve such matters is limited and complaints of this nature are often better suited to the disciplinary processes maintained by the Bar Standards Board. Therefore, Chambers will make an initial assessment of the complaint and if they feel that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through the Chambers complaints process they will refer you to the Bar Standards Board.
The Bar Standards Board can be contacted at:
Bar Standards Board
Professional Conduct Department
289-293 High Holborn
Telephone number: 0207 6111 444