Complaints Policy and Procedure
1. My aim is to give all my clients a good service at all times. However, if you have a complaint please let me know as soon as possible, by telephone or in writing. I will treat your complaint as confidential although I may discuss it with other barristers or officials from the Bar Standards Board as part of their monitoring functions. I will not reveal your name to others unless I appoint an independent person to investigate a complaint or set up mediation. I will deal with your complaint promptly.
2. 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:
a) 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
b) 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 complaint
c) 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).
3. Chambers must have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether they are able to investigate your complaint. Chambers will not therefore usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits. The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances.
4. 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 the investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
5. It should be noted that it may not always be possible to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. This is because my ability 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 Bar Standards Board. Therefore, I will make an initial assessment of the complaint and if I feel that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through my complaints process I will refer you to the Bar Standards Board.
Complaints made by telephone
6. If you wish to make a complaint by telephone, I will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. I will endeavour to resolve matters with you on the telephone. If after discussion you are satisfied with the outcome I will make a note of the outcome and the fact that you are satisfied. If you are not satisfied you may wish to make a written complaint.
Complaints made in writing
7. If you wish to make a written complaint please give me the following details: • Your name, telephone number and address; • The detail of your complaint; and • What you would like done about it.
Procedure for dealing with your complaint
8. There are a number of ways in which your complaint may be dealt with: (a) Discussion over the telephone; (b) Dealt with by correspondence; (c) Discussion at a meeting between us; (d) The appointment of an independent person to investigate the complaint
9. If we decide to appoint an independent person to investigate the complaint (for example, a barrister in another chambers), we both would need to agree who to appoint. An independent person who has considerable experience in the area that is the subject matter of the dispute should be chosen.
10. Upon receipt of a written complaint I will: (a) Reply in writing, normally within 5 working days, to acknowledge the complaint and inform you how I shall be dealing with it. (b) Reply within 14 days responding in full to your complaint.
I will offer you the opportunity to meet with you if that is appropriate. If I find later that I am not going to be able to reply within 14 days I will set a new date for my reply and inform you. My reply will set out: • The nature and scope of my investigation; • My conclusion on each complaint and the basis for my conclusion; and • If I find that you are justified in your complaint, my proposals for resolving the complaint.
11. If you are not happy with my final written response and you fall within their jurisdiction, you may make a formal complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints handling body for complaints about lawyers. Please note the timeframe for referral of complaints to the Ombudsman as set out at paragraph 2 above. They can be contacted at: Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ Telephone number: 0300 555 0333 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org More information about the Legal Ombudsman is available here: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/ If you are unhappy with my final written response and you wish to use a mediation service please let me know and we can consider this. Please also note that: (1) the time limit for advising me that you wish to consider mediation is within 3 months of my final written response to your complaint, and (2) if we use mediation, neither you nor I am 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).
12. If you are not my client and are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation then please contact the Bar Standards Board at: Bar Standards Board Professional Conduct Department 289-293 High Holborn London WC1V 7JZ Telephone number: 0207 6111 444 Website: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk
13. I will maintain confidentiality at all times and discuss your complaint only to the extent that is necessary for its resolution and to comply with requests for information from the Bar Standards Board discharging its monitoring functions (unless you make the subject matter of your complaint public by publishing details for the attention of others not otherwise involved in the complaints process in which case I will reserve the right to respond in full in public. Please note that making your complaint public may have the affect of waiving any right to privilege or confidentiality that you might otherwise have enjoyed).
14. I will retain all correspondence and other documents generated in the course of your complaint for a period of six years and I will review complaints at least once a year to ensure that I maintain good standards of service.
We sincerely hope that you will be very pleased with the service that you have received. In the unlikely event that this does not prove to be the case we would welcome the opportunity to resolve any complaint at the earliest opportunity. In order to assist us we would ask that you consider reducing your complaint to writing and addressing it to Sunil Rupasinha. All complaints will be acknowledged in writing as soon as possible. The acknowledgement will include a copy of this procedure. The client will also be advised when a full reply will follow which should usually be within 14 working days of the acknowledgement. At all times Mr Rupasinha will attempt to complete his investigation and response to the client within 40 working days from the date of the acknowledgement. In resolving each complaint the matter will be reviewed to assess the need for any redress, remedial or other action.
The existence of this procedure does not prohibit Chambers from rejecting vexatious or unjustified complaints. If the complaint is unsatisfied or remains unresolved after this period the matter can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman (Office for Legal Complaints). The Ombudsman’s contact details are: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB Tel: 0300 555 0333 www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
Any reference to the Ombudsman must be made within 6 months of the final response or last contact from Kent Traffic Law.