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.

The address for complaints is:
Complaints Officer
St John’s Buildings
24a-28 St John Street
Manchester
M3 4DJ

Or they can be emailed to the Complaints Officer at clerk@stjohnsbuildings.co.uk.

Although we prefer to receive complaints in writing to ensure we have received the complaint in your words and there is no mistake in the recording of a complaint, you can also make a complaint by telephoning 0161 214 1500 and asking to speak to one of the team to make a complaint.

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. This may also include contacting third parties to seek guidance and information in relation to the complaint. This may require Chambers or its staff to disclose your personal details and data in order to conduct the investigation.

9. The Chief Executive will delegate complaint handling to the Head of Corporate Services (the Complaints Officer) when necessary to assist with the investigation process. 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.

In order to investigate complaints, Chambers may disclose your personal data to relevant third parties, including witnesses and your instructing solicitors and employees of your instructing solicitors. Where you object to any data being disclosed to any particular person or class of person as part of the complaints investigation you are asked to identify that person from the outset.

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 to 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, returning them to the instructing solicitor on completion of the case. 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. Chambers retains the right to refuse complaints that are more than 12 months old without any explanation for that 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.

14. Where your complaint is about one of our Civil Mediation Council registered Mediators in relation to their actions as an independent Mediator and you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint following investigation, you have a right to refer the complaint to the Civil Mediation Council (CMC). More details of the CMC role and procedure can be found here:- https://civilmediation.org/for-the-public/complaints/.

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.