18 October 2018

Frequently asked questions for barristers facing a complaint

If you cannot find the information about our complaints process that you are looking for email us at: assessmentcomplaints@barstandardsboard.org.uk.

We will reply to your email and publish the (anonymised) question and answer here.

Is there someone I can speak to about the complaint that has been made against me?

Yes, if you would like to discuss the complaint against you or our process, you can phone us. If we have recently received the complaint about you and are in the initial assessment stage, phone our switchboard on 020 7611 1444 and ask to speak to the Assessment team. We are here from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. If we have started a formal investigation of the complaint, you can speak to the case officer dealing with the complaint about you. Their name will be on the letters you have received from us.

You can also get advice about how to respond to a complaint and representation at a disciplinary hearing if it comes to that from the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (BMIF). You can get more information from their website or phone them on 020 7621 0405.

The London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association (LCLCBA) also provides advice to their members about how to deal with complaints. If you are a member, see their website for further details.

The Bar Council operates the Barristers' Complaints Advisory Service (BCAS). This is a list of barristers who have volunteered to provide advice and representation to barristers involved in a complaint. Although the majority of the barristers on this list provide their services free, some may charge - check when you first contact them. See the Bar Council website or speak to the member of our staff dealing with the complaint about you for more details. 

I am disabled and need assistance in responding to the complaint, how can you help me?

If you need any help in responding to the complaint because of a disability or impairment please get in touch with us straight away to tell us how we can best help you. You can phone our switchboard on 020 7611 1444 and ask to speak to the Professional Conduct Department Information Line. We are here from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Alternatively you can email us at assessmentcomplaints@barstandardsboard.org.uk

Who will you tell about the complaint?

We normally keep the details of complaints confidential between us, you, the person who complained, and the Legal Ombudsman.

However, investigations normally involve sending the complaint and supporting documents to you and to anyone else who may be able to provide information about the complaint. This could include your instructing solicitor, a judge, or anyone who may have seen or heard relevant things. We will tell you who we are asking for information from. If you think there are any other relevant witnesses, you can give us their details, or you can approach them directly for information if you think it appropriate.

If the complaint is passed on to the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service to arrange a disciplinary tribunal, they will publish a summary of the charges you are facing on the "Forthcoming Hearings" section of their website.

If a tribunal concludes that you have broken a rule of the Handbook, the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service will put details of the finding and sentence on their website, inform your Inn and Head of Chambers (if applicable), and send them to the parties involved. We also publish findings of professional misconduct on the Barristers' Register, and put findings on Certificates of Good Standing. We will also provide details to members of the public and the Judicial Appointments Commission if they ask for them. If you are a QC we will also inform the Queen's Counsel Appointments, if you are not we will only inform them if we are asked.

There may be other circumstances in which some information about a complaint is disclosed if there is a good reason. This would always be in line with the rules of confidentiality at regulation 92 and 93 of the Complaints Regulations.

The litigant in person on the opposite side of an ongoing case made a complaint about me - can I still continue to act for my client?

Yes, you can still act for the client, subject to considerations of conflict of interest. If you have any concerns this is something that the Bar Council's Ethical Enquiry Service can help with.

Who will be on the Disciplinary tribunal? 

Disciplinary tribunals are arranged by the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS), an independent organisation. Tribunals are heard by panels made up of either three or five members (depending on the seriousness or subject matter of the issues) and include barristers and lay members. We have no influence over who is on the tribunal.  For more details on disciplinary tribunals see the disciplinary tribunals process webpage.

What if I'm unhappy about the way you have handled my complaint?

If you would like to make a complaint about how we have handled the complaint about you or any action by our staff, you should use our complaints procedure.

You can make a complaint about any aspect of our service. See Complaints about our staff for details of how to use our complaints procedure.

 

Disclaimer

The information in these pages applies to barristers, and other people we regulate, in England and Wales.

The law that regulates barristers and lawyers is complicated. We have simplified things to give you an idea of how it applies to your situation. Please don't rely on these pages as a complete statement of the law.

The quotes and cases we refer to are not always real but show a typical situation. We hope they help you to understand the system better and think about what might happen to the complaint.