We have adopted a specialist team approach to our practices for many years. We feel that this is the way our clients want us to work, and that specialisation leads to the provision of a better service.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We will always try to deal with complaints promptly and informally where appropriate.
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.
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.
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.
If your complaint is not resolved informally, you will be invited to write to us about it, so it can be investigated formally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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);
Charities with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;
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;
Trustees of trusts with an asset value of less than £1 million; and
Personal representatives or beneficiaries of the estates of persons who, before they died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
You can write to the Legal Ombudsman at:Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806 Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ
More information about the Legal Ombudsman is available on their website.
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.
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).
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.
A member of the clerking team will help you resolve your request.
Frequently asked questions
If you have any queries about the services offered by Guildhall Chambers you are invited to contact the clerks at:
The following are invited to contact the clerks (as above) for our barristers’ services:
Licensed Access clients, who may hold a licence issued by the Bar Standards Board, or be a members of a professional body which has been recognised by the Bar Standards Board; and
Members of the public who wish to instruct a barrister under the Public Access scheme.
We will provide you with a quote as soon as possible and, unless you are informed otherwise, within 14 days. If your matter is urgent please specify this when contacting chambers, and we will work to expedite your query. Guildhall Chambers are used to receiving and responding to work on an urgent basis.
Our barristers act both in advising clients and in representing clients in court. Barristers from Guildhall Chambers appear at all levels of the civil and criminal courts, including the Magistrates’ Court, the Crown Court, the County Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Our barristers act in criminal work for the Crown Prosecution Service (hereafter ‘CPS’) and other prosecuting agencies, as well as for Defendants, at all stages in the criminal justice process.
In civil work, our barristers act for both Claimants and Defendants at all levels of the civil justice system.
We also act for public bodies (particularly in Court of Protection work). Some of our members are members of the Attorney General’s Panel Scheme, which means that they can be instructed to act for the government.
Members of chambers also act for clients in cases heard in the Land Tribunal and in the Employment Tribunal.
If you have any questions about whether a barrister from Guildhall Chambers is able to represent you or has experience in representing clients in a particular area of law, or in a particular tribunal or court, then please do not hesitate to contact the clerks.
Public Access (also known as Direct Access)
If you are a member of the public, the Bar Standards Board’s Public Access Guidance for Law Clients is available here.
This guidance will help you to understand how the Public Access scheme works and explains how you can use it to instruct barristers directly.
Please note not all of our barristers act on a public access basis. Please check with the clerks and on the Public Access page on our website to see which barristers are able to act on a direct / public access basis.
We have barristers who are able to provide services on a public access basis including in the following areas:
What are the levels of fees to be charged for Public Access work?
Guildhall Chambers provides further information on the likely level of fees to be charged for specific areas of work if the barrister is instructed on a Public access basis. We provide this information in relation to work on a Public Access basis for:
Please click on the relevant area to find out more information about the likely level of fees for the services of our barristers in these areas. This information is also available in hard copy format.
Please note that all of the above indicative fee information is still dependent upon the usual factors which may increase (or in some circumstances decrease) the likely cost of the barrister’s services.
Please read this information when considering the range of likely fees in these areas of Public Access work. For the most accurate information on the potential fees involved in your case, please contact the clerks.
If I instruct a barrister on a Direct Access basis, will there be any additional costs to pay or just the barrister’s fee?
It is also important to note that in relation to direct access work there may be costs, fees and/or charges which you will have to pay in addition to the fees which are payable to the barrister. In order to find out more about what (if any) additional costs arise, it is sensible to discuss this with the clerks (or the barrister who you instruct) at the outset.
Examples of additional charges which may be payable in addition to the direct access barrister’s fee include:
Court fees. Whether a court fee is payable (and how much that court fee will be) will depend on the circumstances of your case albeit in many (but not all) cases the value of the remedy which you are seeking will be a key factor;
There may occasionally be charges for photocopying and/or bundle preparation;
Barristers in the following teams most often charge on the following basis for the following areas of work (in each instance please contact the clerks to check that this system of charging will be applicable for your case):
Administrative and Public Law work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Court of Protection work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Clinical negligence and personal injury work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Commercial work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Costs and litigation funding work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Criminal work on a private basis (where the client is not eligible for legal aid) is normally charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate fixed fee.
Employment and discrimination work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate for advisory work. Representation in court is most often charged on the basis of a fixed fee.
Insolvency work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
International and offshore work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Property and estates work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Regulatory and disciplinary work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Sport law work is most often charged (or calculated) on the basis of an hourly rate.
Please note that this is guidance for the approach which is taken in most cases in the relevant area of work. It does not preclude the barrister from charging fees on an hourly rate or a fixed fee basis (as appropriate) where the circumstances of the case, the work which the barrister is required to undertake, and the nature of the instructions best suit that model.
All fees are charged exclusive of VAT (where applicable).
Please contact the clerks in the first instance for information about fees and fee quotes because they will be able to provide you with the clearest information about what the services from barristers at Guildhall Chambers may cost. The clerks will also be able to provide you with information about what may cause any fee quote or estimates to vary. The clerks can only provide you with a quote based on the information which you provide to them, so please endeavour to provide a written summary of the important aspects of your case.
All quotes will be provided within a reasonable time, and in any event the clerks will aim to provide a quote within 14 days. If you require work urgently, please inform the clerks about this when seeking a quote.
We will always aim to set out quotes clearly, but if you receive your quote and there is something that you do not understand, please do not hesitate to contact the clerks. There is also an enquiry form on our website which allows you to provide the clerks with information for the purposes of generating a quote for your case.
Barristers in chambers can charge on an hourly rate basis or on the basis of a fixed fee. However, unless a fixed fee is set when a barrister initially receives instructions to undertake work on your behalf, then the barrister will work on an hourly rate basis.
Do barristers at Guildhall Chambers work on a “no win, no fee” basis? Can I fund my case with legal insurance?
Our barristers will also accept instructions under conditional fee arrangements (colloquially known as ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements) however the barrister is not obliged to agree to work on this basis and will have to enter into a written agreement to that effect in order to do so. Please contact the clerks in order to discuss whether this is an arrangement which you would like to explore in the circumstances of your case.
Do any of the barristers at Guildhall Chambers work without requiring a fee?
Some barrister will work without requiring a fee from their client (this is referred to as “pro bono” work). However, barristers are not required to act on this basis. If this is something which you are interested in for the purposes of your case, then please contact the clerks. Please note that pro bono work is normally provided through the Pro Bono ‘Advocate’ Scheme. For more information on that scheme please follow this link https://weareadvocate.org.uk/ or call 020 7092 3960.
Do barristers at Guildhall Chambers provide their services to clients who are funded by the Legal Aid Agency?
Barristers at Guildhall Chambers do provide their services to clients who are funded by the Legal Aid Agency. If you are unsure whether you are eligible for legal aid then please see the legal aid eligibility calculator at https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid.
Please note that barristers cannot do legal aid work unless they have been instructed by a solicitor. However, just because your case is eligible for legal aid funding does not mean that you cannot choose to proceed under Public Access scheme.
Timescales for a case may vary depending on factors such as the availability of the barrister, the type and the complexity of the case, the approach of the other side and court waiting times. Whilst all barristers will aim to complete any written and/or advisory services required on a case within 28 days this will not be possible in all cases. If there is a particular deadline then this must be raised and agreed with the barrister when any instructions are given to the barrister.
Please note that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic many cases (both civil and criminal) have been delayed and there are significant backlogs in the system. Whilst this will not usually alter the timescales for the services which barristers at Guildhall Chambers will provide, it may mean that timescales given in relation to the progress of your case through the courts will be affected.
Whether the fees are to be charged on an hourly rate or a fixed fee basis there will be certain factors which may increase the level of work involved, and therefore the fees which are likely to be charged (or the number of hours involved). Those factors include:
The seniority of barrister required for your case. The more experienced the barrister (which is normally calculated on the number of years since they were called to the bar) the higher the likely level of fees to be charged.
The number of papers involved in the case and/or the complexity of the factual issues involved.
The time in which you require the work to be turned around and/or the services to be provided. More urgent work will often involve a higher level of fee (for example if this involves the barrister working over a weekend or prioritising your case over other work).
The amount of time that your case will require the barrister to be in court.
The amount of travel time required for the barrister to get to and from court. Travel time is usually charged at half the barrister’s hourly rate.
The complexity of the legal issues involved.
The significance of the case more generally, for example if the case has wider ramifications for the client generally and/or public or legal significance.
If you are concerned about the level of fees which may be involved in your case please inform the clerks at the earliest opportunity who will be able to discuss with the barrister how costs can be managed on the case.
Please not that fee indications are (unless expressly agreed otherwise) not “caps”, and if a barrister is required to do work on the case, then they will charge accordingly. We will always aim to inform you if the fees on the case are likely to exceed the fee quotes or estimates previously provided.
The best way to manage the level of the fees is to discuss the circumstances of your case (including any issues regarding fees) with the clerks when initially seeking to instruct a barrister.
Barristers at Guildhall Chambers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board (hereafter ‘BSB’). You can contact the BSB at 289-293 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7HZ or by telephone on 020 7611 1444. Please follow this link to the BSB website: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk.
If you are interested in seeing: (i) whether a barrister has a current practising certificate or (ii) whether a barrister has any disciplinary findings (which are published on the BSB website) then you can search the Barristers’ Register on the Bar Standards Board website here.
What is the complaints procedure at Guildhall Chambers, and do I have any further rights of redress if I am unhappy with how my complaint has been handled?
If you have any complaints about the services provided by a barrister at Guildhall Chambers, then please read our complaints policy here.
This provides information about:
Our complaints procedure;
Any right which you may have to contact the Legal Ombudsman (hereafter ‘LeO’). This is an independent body which can help you if you have complained to your lawyer and are not happy with the response. The LeO’s website is https://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/ and they can be contacted by telephone on 0300 555 0333. Please read the FAQs section of the LeO website for more information about how to complain to the LeO;
Chambers does not have a time limit for bringing complaints under its complaints policy to be processed within the complaints procedure at Guildhall. However the LeO does have time limits for bringing a complaint, which is ordinarily (if the complaint arises from an act or omission after 5 October 2010) six years from the act/omission which is the subject of the complaint and/or three years from when the complainant should reasonably have known that there was cause for complaint.
You can also search the decision date on the LeO’s website here.
This shows providers which received an ombudsman’s decision in the previous 12 months, and whether LeO required the provider to give the consumer a remedy.
Guildhall Chambers have premises in both London and Bristol. Please find the addresses for our offices below:
5-8 Broad Street Bristol BS1 2HG
23 Broad Street Bristol BS1 2HG
Central Court Southampton Buildings London WC2A 1AL
It is advisable to contact the Bristol offices in the first instance, because Guildhall Chambers do not have a permanent staff presence at the London office (although calls will be forwarded from the London office). This does not inhibit barristers from Guildhall Chambers from representing London clients or in appearing very frequently in the courts in London.
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