Customer Service Policy

Of course our objective is to provide first-class service, from initial contact with the clerking team to the conclusion of advisory work or advocacy by our members. We hope that you will be entirely satisfied with our service.

If, however, you feel that we have not achieved our objective, our complaints policy appears below.

Please note that the Legal Ombudsman will not normally consider a complaint until a Chambers complaints procedure has been invoked.

Complaints

  1. All complaints, from whatever source, in relation to the professional conduct of members of Chambers, or conduct by members of Chambers likely to bring Chambers into disrepute, are referred to the Deputy Head of Chambers or the Head of the Criminal Team, as the Head of Chambers directs.  If the matter relates to the conduct of either or both of those persons, or if for any other reason it is not appropriate for one of both of them to deal with the matter, the Head of Chambers will refer the matter to another senior member of Chambers to do so.  In this document the person to whom such reference is made is called the referee.
  2. The referee will investigate the complaint or cause the complaint to be investigated by the Chambers Director.  This will involve calling for and considering any documentation relevant to the complaint, and if necessary speaking to any person in order to establish the facts.  The referee will in the course of and at the end of his/her factual inquiry communicate  with the member of Chambers concerned and make sure that he/she understands the complaint, is fully informed as to the evidence, and has a full opportunity to answer the complaint and produce evidence or other material in relation to it.  It is in itself a breach of professional ethics for a member of Chambers not to make himself/herself available without very good cause for discussion of a complaint with the referee or the Chambers Director when nominated on the referees behalf, or otherwise not to co-operate in a Complaints or Disciplinary Procedure.
  3. After the referee has completed the investigation, he/she will inform the complainant of the outcome of the investigation and any recommended sanction and give the complainant the opportunity to comment.  The referee will then report to the Head of Chambers in writing setting out his/her findings and a recommendation as to the proper disposal of the complaint. The referee will make available to the Head of Chambers any comment made by the complainant at that time.  If the referee finds that the complaint, or some element of it, is well-founded, the referee will recommend to the Head of Chambers what, if any, sanction should follow.  If the complaint is not well-founded, the referee will say so, explain his/her findings, and invite the Head of Chambers to respond to the complaint accordingly.  The member of Chambers will receive a copy of the referee’s report at the same time as it is submitted to the Head of Chambers.
  4. The sanctions which the referee may recommend upon a finding that any complaint is made out, and which the Head of Chambers may impose, are those appropriate to the conduct found proved and the record of the member of Chambers in question.  They include, but are not limited to, any, or a combination of, the following :
    • No action
    • A requirement that the member of Chambers receive advice as to his/her future conduct
    • A note being made of the complaint and the findings without further action
    • A reprimand
    • A requirement that an apology be made
    • Remittance of part or all of any brief fee due or paid  (in privately funded cases)
    • Compensation in the form of the payment of a specified sum to a charity of a complainant’s choice, or compensation to the complainant (such sums to be paid by Chambers and deducted from payments in respect of receipts)
    • An instruction to the clerks that for a specified period the member of Chambers should do only work in his/her own name, and not receive returns from within Chambers or elsewhere
    • Suspension from Chambers for a specified period
    • A request that the member resign from Chambers
    • Dismissal from Chambers  
  5. Any or all of these sanctions may be imposed separately or together, and may be suspended for such period as the referee may suggest or the Head of Chambers determine.  Any sanction, whether mentioned above or not, must be proportionate to the findings of the referee.
  6. At the same time as imposing any sanction the Head of Chambers will consider the necessity of referring the matter to the BSB, and will make such a reference when deemed necessary.
  7. If the Head of Chambers regards the findings of the referee as unreasonably favorable to the Member of Chambers, or the recommendation is too lenient in all the circumstances, he/she will so inform the member of Chambers and invite him/her to attend the Head of Chambers for a hearing and make submissions, assisted if he/she wishes by another member of Chambers of his/her choice.
  8. If the member of Chambers does not agree with the findings or the recommendation of the referee, he/she has the right to a further hearing by the Head of Chambers, at which he/she is entitled to the assistance of another member of Chambers of his/her choice to assist in the presentation of his/her arguments.
  9. Each of these hearings by the Head of Chambers is a review of the referee’s findings and recommendation, not a full rehearing of the complaint.  If the Head of Chambers thinks fit he/she may invite the original referee to re-consider his/her findings or recommendation, or remit the matter for a rehearing by another member of Chambers.  Otherwise the Head of Chambers may confirm the findings and recommendation, and confirm or vary the sanction recommended.
  10. The decision of the Head of Chambers is final and binding.  Any dispute as to procedure, findings or sanctions imposed must be taken to the Leader of the Midland Circuit for arbitration or alternative dispute resolution.
  11. Complaints referring to or involving members of Chambers staff will be investigated by the line manager of the staff member involved.  Imposition of any sanction arising will be a decision for the line manager involved and ultimately for the Chambers Director.
  12. Complaints will be acknowledged promptly.  The complainant will be informed of the identity and role of the person dealing and will be given a copy of this policy.  Throughout the process the complainant will be updated on progress in writing at intervals of no less than 14 days.  All communications from the complainant will be responded to in writing (or by e-mail when agreed with the complainant) within 7 days.  The complainant will be informed of his/her right to refer matters to the BSB and Legal Ombudsman if not satisfied with the manner in which Chambers deals with the complaint both at the outset and conclusion of our handling of the matter.