Complaints Procedure

Chair of Complaints Committee: Mr Julian Allsop

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 0117 930 9000


  1. All Members and employees of Chambers strive to provide you with high quality advice and standards of service. We recognise, however, that there may be occasions when you are dissatisfied with the service you receive and which you feel merit We aim constantly to improve our client service, so take such feedback very seriously, and listen to it carefully. Naturally, we hope to retain a good working relationship with you, so we will do all we can to find a solution in each situation.
  2. This document explains how Chambers’ Complaints Procedure works, who is involved, and what you can expect at each stage. Its aim is to ensure that complaints are dealt with efficiently and fairly and resolved satisfactorily.
  3. All complaints will be dealt with in accordance with Chambers’ Equality & Diversity policy, a copy of which is available on request. If at any stage during the complaints process you require a reasonable adjustment, please raise this in writing with the Chair of the Complaints Committee (see below) who will consider what measures may reasonably be put in place to assist you in in raising and determining your complaint.
  4. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has time limits in which a complaint must be raised with them. The time limits are:
    • The act or omission, or when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint, must have been after 5 October 2010; and
    • The complainant must refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman no later than six years from the act/omission, or three years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for
    • The complainant must also refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the complaint receiving a final response from their lawyer, if that response complies with the requirements in rule 4.4 of the Scheme Rules (which requires the response to include prominently an explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if the complainant remained dissatisfied, and the provision of full contact details for the Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to them within six months).
  5. We will have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether we are able to investigate your complaint. We will not therefore usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman’s time The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances.
  6. The Ombudsman will also only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from the barrister’s client are within their jurisdiction. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of our investigation should contact the BSB rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
  7. It should be noted that it may not always be possible to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. This is because the ability of Chambers to satisfactorily investigate and resolve such matters is limited and complaints of this nature are often better suited to the disciplinary processes maintained by the BSB. Therefore, we will make an initial assessment of the complaint and if we feel that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through this Complaints Procedure, we will refer you to the BSB, where appropriate.
  8. In the event that professional negligence is alleged at any point against a Barrister, they will be obliged to inform the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (‘BMIF’) immediately and follow their instructions. If the BMIF wishes to take over conduct of the matter, Chambers will comply with that request and ensure that all correspondence and other documentation is sent to it. The Complaints Committee member will inform you immediately of the action taken and your complaint will be handled by the BMIF from that point.
  9. Complaints that relate to allegations of professional misconduct should be referred to the Bar Standards Board (‘BSB’) for investigation. Their contact details are set out in paragraph 27 below.

Informal Stage

  1. We will always try to deal with complaints promptly and informally where appropriate.
  2. You may wish to make a formal complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraph 14 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone or send an email about your complaint on the basis that informal resolution is the preferred method of resolution of your complaint in the first instance, then please telephone or email Mrs Caroline Evans, Mr Stephen Arnold (Senior Practice Managers, Civil) or Ms Lucy Northeast (Senior Practice Manager, Crime, Regulatory & Sports), depending on the type of work undertaken by the Barrister for you, or the member of staff about whom you wish to complain.
  3. If the complaint is about Mrs Caroline Evans, Mr Stephen Arnold or Ms Northeast, please telephone or email Mr Julian Allsop, the Chair of the Complaints Committee. If the complaint is about Mr Allsop, please contact the Head of Chambers, Ms Anna Vigars KC.
  4. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like to have done about it. They will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved they 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.
  5. If your complaint is not resolved informally, you will be invited to write to us about it, so it can be investigated formally.

Formal Stage

  1. Please give the following details in writing:
    • Your name and address;
    • Which Member(s) of Chambers or staff you are complaining about;
    • The detail of the complaint; and
    • What you would like done about it.
  2. Please address your letter (or emailed letter) to Mrs Caroline Evans, Mr Stephen Arnold or Ms Lucy Northeast at 23 Broad Street, Bristol BS1 2HG. 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.
  3. Guildhall Chambers has a Complaints Committee. It is chaired by Mr Allsop and made up of experienced Members of Chambers and a senior member of staff, which considers any written complaint.
  4. Within 14 days of your letter being received, Mr Allsop (or his deputy in his absence) will appoint a member of the Committee to investigate it. To ensure objectivity and fairness, this will be someone who is not connected with the complaint or with any party to it, and is likely to be one of: Richard Ascroft, William Batstone, Peter Binder, Douglas Leach, Simon Passfield, Selena Plowden KC, Christopher Quinlan KC, Richard Smith KC and Charles Thomas.
  5. If your complaint is against Mr Allsop, the Head of Chambers will appoint a member of the panel who will investigate it. In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.
  6. The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know they have been appointed and that they will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If they find later that they are not going to be able to reply within 14 days they will set a new date for their reply and inform you. Their reply will set out:
    • The nature and scope of their investigation;
    • Their conclusion on each complaint and the basis for their conclusion; and
    • If they find that you are justified in your complaint, their proposals for resolving the complaint.


  1. 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, Members of our Management Committee and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the Barrister or member of staff who you have complained about, the Chair (or relevant senior member) of the panel and the person who investigates the complaint. The BSB is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its monitoring functions.

Our Policy

  1. 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/ Alternative Dispute Resolution

  1. If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation and you fall within their jurisdiction you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for complaints about lawyers, at the conclusion of our consideration of your complaint. The Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers. Please note the timeframe for referral of complaints to the Ombudsman as set out at paragraph 4 above. Those clients who are able to complain to the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
    1. Individuals;
    2. Businesses or enterprises that are micro-enterprises within the meaning of Article 1 and Article 2(1) and (3) of the Annex to Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC (broadly businesses or enterprises with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or assets not exceeding €2 million);
    3. Charities with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;
    4. Clubs, associations or organisations, the affairs of which are managed by its members or a committee of its members, with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;
    5. Trustees of trusts with an asset value of less than £1 million; and
    6. Personal representatives or beneficiaries of the estates of persons who, before they died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
  2. You can write to the Legal Ombudsman at:Legal Ombudsman
    PO Box 6806
    WV1 9WJ

    Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
    Email: [email protected]

    More information about the Legal Ombudsman is available on their website.

  3. If you are unhappy with the outcome of the investigation, alternative complaints bodies (such as Pro Mediate) also exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services, should you and the Barrister both wish to use such a scheme. If you wish to use Pro Mediate please contact us to discuss this.
  4. Please also note that: (1) the time limit for contacting Pro Mediate is 28 days after the final outcome of our investigation is sent to you and (2) if mediation is used, neither you nor the Barrister is required to accept the proposed resolution. If mediation does not resolve the complaint, you may still make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (provided you fall within their jurisdiction and you do so within the time limit).
  5. If you are not the Barrister’s client and are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation then please contact the Bar Standards Board at:Bar Standards Board Contact and Assessment Team
    289-293 High Holborn
    WC1V 7JZTelephone number: 0207 6111 444

For help or advice please call 0117 930 9000 or complete the form below.

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