Complaints Procedure 

If you ever have any concerns about the service you are receiving from your barrister or a member of our team the best way to resolve it early is to send an email to clerk@stjohnsbuildings.co.uk and we will get back to you within 48 hours with some assistance and, hopefully, a resolution.

In the first instance we hope that any concerns raised can be dealt with directly by the barrister or team member concerned through open and responsive communication.

Although we hope our clients never have cause to use it, we also have a very simple and thorough complaints procedure in place to ensure that any concerns get dealt with quickly and appropriately, without causing too much disruption. The procedure is as follows:

  1. If a quick email won’t help you resolve your concerns then it is likely that you have what we call “a substantive complaint”. Any substantive complaint received in Chambers whether to the staff team, to a barrister or to the Head of Chambers should be immediately notified to the Chief Executive, together with copies of all significant correspondence etc
  2. A substantive complaint is one which is about a matter which covers negligence, incompetence or a significant shortfall in the level of service our clients are entitled to expect. It may be in writing, by email, by fax or by telephone.
  3. All complaints will be acknowledged, preferably in writing, within 72 hours of receipt.
  4. You will also be advised when a full reply will follow, which should usually be within 28 days.
  5. If received by a barrister, it should be handled and resolved where possible by that barrister in the first instance. If it is unable to be satisfactorily resolved, then the matter must be advised to the Chief Executive.
  6. If the complaint relates to actions within the Administrative Staff, it will be handled by the relevant line Manager.
  7. If the complaint relates to a line Manager it will be handled by the Chief Executive, and if it involves the Chief Executive it will be handled throughout by the Head of Chambers.
  8. If received by the Chief Executive, he will make enquiries of the barrister or member of staff concerned, speak to the professional client and endeavour to resolve matters. The Chief Executive will delegate complaint handling to the Head of Corporate Services when necessary to assist with the investigation process.
  9. If for any reason it is inappropriate for the Chief Executive or the Head of Corporate Services to manage the complaint investigation, the matter will be referred to the Head of Chambers, who will then investigate and liaise with the professional client as appropriate.
  10. In resolving each complaint, the matter will be reviewed to assess the need for :

    Appropriate redress: as a compensatory/goodwill measure for the client
    Remedial Action: where the problem is not beyond correcting
    Improvement Action: to look at the root cause of the problem and implement changes to prevent the problem from recurring.

  11. So as to assist in our ability investigate any complaint, we ask that complaints be made within 12 months of the incident from which the complaint arises. This is necessary because barristers do not retain the papers on a case. They return them to the client, Investigating complaints without the relevant files is a difficult process. If a complaint is being made outside of this timescale complainants are asked to explain why there has been such delay.
  12. The existence of this procedure does not prohibit Chambers from turning aside unjustified complaints.
  13. If a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint following investigation, they have a right to refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will only consider complaints that have already been referred to Chambers and that have received an unsatisfactory response or outcome from Chambers. The office of the Ombudsman can be contacted on 0300 555 0333 or visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk for further information.

If you have any questions about this process please feel free to contact your local chambers or to email clerk@stjohnsbuildings.co.uk. We are happy to give you impartial advice on accessing this process.