Ely Place Chambers Complaints Procedure
1. Our aim is to give you a good service at all times. However if you have a complaint you are invited to let us know as soon as possible. It is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint but you are free to do so should you wish.
2. Please note that Chambers will only consider complaints that are raised within six months of the act or omission complained of.
Complaints made by telephone
3. You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraph 4 and 5 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone the individual nominated under the Chambers Complaints Procedure to deal with telephone complaints, who is Richard Sheehan (Senior Clerk). If the complaint is about Mr Sheehan, please telephone the Head of Chambers. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. He will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved he 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.
4. If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be invited to write to us about it within the next 14 days so it can be investigated formally.
Complaints made in writing
5. 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.
Please address your letter to William McCormick QC at the Chambers’ address. We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
6. Our Chambers has a panel headed by Mr McCormick and made up of experienced members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, which considers any written complaint. The current members are: William Evans and Russell Stone (barrister members) and Richard Sheehan (Senior Clerk). Within 14 days of your letter being received the head of the panel or Mr Sheehan 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.
7. The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know he has been appointed and that he will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If he finds later that he is not going to be able to reply within 14 days he will set a new date for his reply and inform you. His reply will set out: • The nature and scope of his investigation; • His conclusion on each complaint and the basis for his conclusion; and • If he finds that you are justified in your complaint, his proposals for resolving the complaint. Please note that there may be circumstances where the investigator feels that he is unable to carry out the investigation at that time; for example, where a complaint relates to ongoing litigation. If that is the case, the investigator will inform you of this and provide reasons.
8. 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 of chambers, deputy head of chambers 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.
9. 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
10. If you are not happy with the outcome then you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is a free, impartial and independent service set up by the Government which deals with complaints about the service you have received. You must ordinarily complain to the Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint. A complaint to the Ombudsman must also be made not more than six years after the act or omission complained about or not more than three years from the date when you should reasonably have known that there were grounds for complaint. For further details about how to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, including guidance about the new scheme rules that came into effect on 1 February 2013, please contact the Legal Ombudsman directly at:
PO Box 6806
Phone: 0300 555 0333