Client Complaint Procedure
Formal Complaints are acknowledged by the Senior Clerk within 24 hours. Details of all complaints and significant feedback received are passed to the Head of Chambers for information and action where necessary. When required, the Head of Chambers will consider the best course of action after consultation with the Clerking Committee. In cases referred to the Head of Chambers for action, the resolution of the complaint will be undertaken directly between the Head of Chambers and the complainant. Copies of all correspondence will be held on file by the Senior Clerk as described below. It is not always necessary for the Head of Chambers to be part of the final response or to engage with the complainant. It is at the discretion of the Head of Chambers to determine his involvement in the complaint.
The St Pauls Chambers definition of a formal complaint is that it is:
‘an expression of dissatisfaction made to someone other than the Clerk or Barrister who was the subject of the complaint.’
This ‘someone’ will normally be the Senior Clerk, who is the individual nominated by Head of Chambers as being responsible for client care in the letter of acknowledgement. Should there be complaints against the Senior Clerk or instances deemed to be of a serious nature, they are directed to the Head of Chambers for action.
All members and staff have a responsibility to Chambers in bringing any significant negative client feedback (i.e. it falls outside the definition of a formal complaint above), to the attention of the Senior Clerk. The Senior Clerk will decide on any subsequent course of action.
Formal complaints and items of significant feedback are recorded using Chambers Complaint Form. The form is completed and actioned by the Senior Clerk in discussion with the complainant or from information contained in correspondence. A timetable will be set and a file will be opened.
At the conclusion of the complaints process, the complainant will be informed in writing of their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, the time frame for doing so and the full details of how to contact them.
All files will be kept for 6 years following the conclusion of the complaint.
Any complaint against the Head of Chambers will be immediately referred by the Senior Clerk to a meeting of the Management Committee for consideration and response. Should the Management Committee prove unable to resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of all parties, the matter will be referred to an ex Head of Chambers for conciliation and arbitration and the decision of this arbitrator shall be accepted as final.
The Senior Clerk will report annually to the appropriate committee on the number of complaints received, the subject areas of the complaints and the outcomes. The complaints are reviewed to identify possible training issues.
If the complaint cannot be resolved with this procedure, the complainant will be directed to the Legal Ombudsman.