22 May 2017

Annexe S - Chambers Complaints

From 6 January 2014 the Bar should refer to a  new Handbook for rules and guidance on their conduct as barristers.

Introduction

The numbered paragraphs below contain requirements which must be met by all barristers in order to comply with paragraph 403.5 (d) of the Code of Conduct.

REQUIREMENTS

Provision of information to clients 

1. 1From 6th October 2010, Barristers must notify clients in writing at the time of engagement or if not practicable at the next appropriate opportunity:

(a) Of their right to make a complaint, how and to whom this can be done, including their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman at the conclusion of the complaints process, the timeframe for doing so and the full details of how to contact the Legal Ombudsman;

(b) That the lay client may complain directly to Chambers without going through solicitors. 

In cases of public or licensed access using an intermediary, the intermediary must similarly be informed.

In the case of the professional client, the notification of the information at 1(a) and 1(b) does not require a separate specific letter. It is sufficient for it to be contained in the ordinary terms of reference letter (or equivalent letter) that is sent by Chambers upon acceptance of instructions. In the case of the lay client, where there is, unless it is public access case, no letter of engagement, a specific letter must be sent to them notifying of the information at 1(a) and 1(b).

2.  Chambers' websites and literature must carry information   about the Chambers' Complaints Procedure

RESPONSE TO COMPLAINTS

3. All complaints must be acknowledged promptly. Together with the acknowledgment, the complainant must be provided with:-

(a) the name of the person who will deal with the    complaint together with a description of that    person's role in Chambers

(b) a copy of the Chambers' Complaint Procedure 

(c) the date by which  the complainant will next hear from Chambers.    

1At the conclusion of the complaints process,  complainants must be informed in writing of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, the timeframe for doing so and the full details of how to contact them.

Documents and Record Keeping

4. All communications and documents relating to complaints must be kept confidential and disclosed only so far as is necessary for 

(a) the investigation and resolution of the complaint 

(b) internal Chambers review for the purposes of improving practice 

(c) complying with requests from the Bar Standards Board in the exercise of its monitoring and or auditing functions.  

The disclosure of internal Chambers' documents relating to the handling of the complaint, such as the minutes of a Chambers' meeting held to discuss a particular complaint, to the Bar Standards Board for the further resolution or investigation of the complaint is not required. 
 

5. A record must be kept of each complaint, all steps taken in response to it and the outcome of the complaint, together with a copy of all correspondence, including electronic mail, and all other documents generated in response to the complaint. The records and copies should be kept for 6 years. 

6. The person responsible for the administration of the procedure must report at least annually to the appropriate member/committee of Chambers on the number of complaints received, the subject areas of the complaints and the outcomes. The complaints should be reviewed for trends and possible training issues.

1Amended 6th October 2010