Arden Chambers complaints procedure
1. This procedure is concerned with complaints against current members of Chambers or pupils made by lay or professional clients.
2. Chambers will not deal with complaints that are made twelve months after the act or omission which is the subject of the complaint.
Making a complaint
3. In the first instance, you should raise your complaint with the Chambers’ Senior Practice Manager, which you may do over the telephone or in writing.
4. Where a complaint is made in writing, the complainant should provide the following information:
(a) his/her name and address;
(b) the name of the person who is the subject of the complaint;
(c) brief details of the complaint; and
(d) what the complainant would like to be done about the complaint.
5. Where a complaint is made otherwise than in writing, a note of the complaint will be made recording:
(a) the date the complaint was made;
(b) the name and address of the complainant;
(c) the name of the person who is the subject of the complaint;
(d) brief details of the complaint; and
(e) what the complainant would like to be done about the complaint.
6. Chambers’ Senior Practice Manager will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the complaint is resolved, he or she will record the outcome and notify you to confirm the terms of the resolution.
7. If your complaint cannot be resolved with the Chambers’ Senior Practice Manager, your complaint will be passed to the member of Chambers’ Management Committee responsible for professional standards (“the Complaints Manager”). Where the complaint is about the Complaints Manager, it will be passed to another member of the Management Committee or the Head of Chambers.
Action on receipt of a complaint
8. On receipt of a complaint, the Complaints Manager will :
(a) as soon as practicable, inform the Head of Chambers of the complaint, summarise its content and propose a timescale for dealing with it;
(b) notify the Chambers’ Senior Practice Manager of the timescale when it is agreed and of any changes to the timescale;
(c) as soon as practicable, write to the complainant acknowledging the complaint, sending him a copy of this procedure and, where necessary, asking for his/her consent to the person who is the subject of the complaint disclosing to the Complaints Manager and the Head of Chambers information that he or she has about the complainant’s case;
(d) investigate the complaint forthwith or, where the complainant has been asked to give his or her consent to disclosure, on receipt of that consent; and
(e) as soon as practicable (and normally within a month), report on the complaint – together with any additional issue arising from his investigation (relating to the person who is the subject of the complaint, any other member of Chambers, any Chambers’ employee or any aspect of Chambers’ systems) – in writing to the Head of Chambers.
9. If the Complaints Manager does not report to the Head of Chambers within a month, he will inform the Head of Chambers of the reasons for the delay and of a proposed date by which the report will be provided to him. The Head of Chambers may require the provision of a report (even if incomplete) at any time from one month after the Complaints Manager started his investigation into the complaint and agree a timescale for its completion.
10. The Complaints Manager’s report will take the form of a draft response to the complainant (as to facts and any proposed resolution) and, so far as may be required either by the complaint and findings on it or because the investigation has raised additional issues, a draft note for appropriate use within Chambers.
11. If the Complaints Manager’s report is to the effect that the complaint is wholly or partly made out, or if it identifies any additional issue arising from his investigation relating to the person who is the subject of the complaint, which is against his or her interests, the Complaints Manager will – at the same time as he sends the report to the Head of Chambers – send a copy of it to the person who is the subject of the complaint, who may make written representations (on findings of fact and/or proposed resolution) to the Head of Chambers within one week.
12. On receipt of the Complaints Manager’s report (and, as appropriate, any representations from the person who is the subject of the complaint), the Head of Chambers will – as soon as practicable – reach a decision on the complaint. The decision will, save so far as he considers that further information is required from the Complaints Manager, be based on the draft report and any draft note alone. The issues for his consideration so far as concerns the complaint are whether the facts as found by the Complaints Manager do or do not make out the complaint (in whole or part), and/or whether any additional issue disclosed by the investigation should or should not be drawn to the complainant’s attention, and, if the complaint is made out (in whole or part) his proposals for resolving the complaint.
13. On reaching his decision, the Head of Chambers will notify the complainant forthwith of that decision in writing. Any such notification will also inform the complainant :
(a) that he or she may complain to the Legal Ombudsman;
(b) the address, telephone number and email address of the Legal Ombudsman; and
(c) that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must be made within twelve months of the act or omission which is the subject of the complaint.
14. The Head of Chambers will also ensure that appropriate action is taken in respect of any additional issue disclosed by the investigation into the complaint.
15. 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, the Complaints Manager, the person who is the subject of the complaint and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. The Bar Standards Board is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its auditing and monitoring functions.