- This web page contains the Exchequer Chambers Complaints Procedure.
- It aims to ensure that all complaints are dealt with promptly, courteously and in a manner which addresses the issues raised.
Provision of information to clients
- The following information will be provided in writing by the clerks of Exchequer Chambers either on acceptance of new instructions on behalf of a member of Exchequer Chambers or, if those instructions are not accepted for any reason, when the instructions are returned:
(a) that Exchequer Chambers has a written Complaints Procedure; and
(b) that the lay client may complain directly to Exchequer Chambers without going through solicitors.
- Where the information is provided to a solicitor or, in cases of public or licensed access using an intermediary, to the intermediary, the information will be accompanied by a written request that the information be provided to the lay client.
- A copy of this Complaints Procedure will be provided on request to any professional or lay client or public or licensed access intermediary.
Website and literature
- The information at paragraphs 1 and 3 is also published on Exchequer Chambers website and in its promotional literature.
- Complaints about barristers should, wherever possible, be raised informally in the first instance with the barrister who is the subject of the complaint. Complaints about employees of Exchequer Chambers should, wherever possible, be raised informally with the Head of Chambers. If this is not possible, or if no informal resolution is reached, a complaint should be made in writing as set out below.
- Formal complaints should be made in writing and addressed to the Head of Chambers marked ‘Complaint’ on the outside of the envelope. The Head of Chambers may give authority to another barrister or to a senior employee to open complaints on his behalf.
- The Head of Chambers or another barrister or senior employee appointed by him for this purpose, will liaise with the barrister and the person making the complaint, discuss the issues raised with each (so far as each is willing to do so) and seek to reach agreement on disposal of the complaint.
- Within 14 days of receipt of the complaint, the person making the complaint will be sent, in writing:
(a) confirmation that the complaint has been received;
(b) the name of the person appointed to deal with the complaint in the way described in paragraph 9 above;
(c) a description of that person’s role in Chambers
(d) a copy of this Complaints Procedure;
(e) the date by which the person making the complaint will be contacted again by the Head of Chambers.
- If no agreement can be reached, the person making the complaint will be informed of the right (see below) to take the complaint to the Bar Standards Board.
Record keeping and documents
- All communications and documents relating to complaints will be kept confidential and disclosed only where legally required or so far as is reasonably 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.
- Records are kept for six years of each complaint, all steps taken in response to it and the outcome of the complaint, and copies of all relevant documentation including letters and emails correspondence.
Annual review of complaints
- The Head of Chambers will report annually to the Members of Chambers in writing on the number of complaints received, the subject areas of the complaints and the outcomes. No confidential information will be provided in the report.
- On the basis of the report by the Head of Chambers the Members of Chambers will review the complaints for trends and possible training issues, and consider improvements to the Complaints Procedure. A written record will be kept of the outcome of the review.
Complaints to the Bar Standards Board
- A complaint may be made to the Bar Standards Board without first making a complaint to Exchequer Chambers although the Bar Standards Board encourages attempts to resolve complaints within Chambers in the first instance. Except in exceptional circumstances, the time limit for a complaint to the Bar Standards Board is six months after the relevant act or omission.
- The Bar Standards Board can investigate a complaint if there is evidence that a barrister has breached the Code of conduct or has provided inadequate professional service.
- Further information, including information about how to make a complaint, is available from the Bar Standards Board website: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk or by telephoning the Bar Standards Board on 020 7611 1444 and requesting a hard copy of the complaints pack.