How to make a complaint
- At Fountain Court, we aim to provide a high-quality service. If, however, you are dissatisfied with our service or have any other complaint, we would like to know about it. That enables us to address your complaint and to seek to improve the services we provide.
- If you have a complaint, you are encouraged to let us know as soon as possible. You may make a complaint by telephone or in writing. If you wish your complaint to be dealt with by a person who has not previously been involved in the matter, we prefer the complaint to be made in writing, even if only in a short email, as that enables us to investigate the background before responding; but you may, if you wish, raise the matter by telephone, and you should do so particularly if the matter requires immediate or prompt resolution.
- To make a complaint, please contact the barrister concerned or, if the complaint is about a member of staff, please contact the Senior Clerk (Alex Taylor). If you wish your complaint to be considered at a more senior level, please write to, or ask to speak to, the Head of Chambers.
- If the discussion is by telephone, the person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. That person will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved, he or she will record the outcome, check that you are satisfied with the outcome, and record that you are satisfied. You may yourself wish to record the outcome of the telephone discussion in writing.
- If your complaint is not resolved by the person you are complaining about, the Senior Clerk or (as the case may be) the Head of Chambers, you will be invited to write to us about it within the next 14 days so that it can be investigated, or investigated further, by the Head of Chambers. When writing, please state your name and address, which member or members of chambers or staff you are complaining about, and what you would like done about it.
- If you wish the Head of Chambers to consider your complaint, please address your letter to:
The Head of Chambers
London EC4Y 9DH
- If your complaint concerns the Head of Chambers, it will be handled by the deputy Head of Chambers or the most senior member of Chambers who is not the Head of Chambers.
- We aim to respond to complaints within 14 days. If this is not going to be possible, we shall let you know indicating why and setting a new date for our response.
- When your complaint has been investigated and considered, the Head of Chambers (or the person identified in paragraph 7) will reply to you, setting out the nature and scope of the investigation carried out, the conclusion reached on the complaint and the basis for reaching that conclusion and, if he considers the complaint to be justified, his proposals for resolving the complaint.
- If your complaint involves a matter which may give rise to an insurance claim, the barrister will be obliged to inform his or her insurers, who will then need to be consulted before any proposals can be put to you to resolve your complaint. This may affect the speed with which we are able to respond to complaints in these circumstances.
- All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that is necessary to address the complaint. In addition to the person(s) complained about, in most cases such disclosure is likely to extend to the Head of Chambers, the Senior Clerk and the Head of Administration.
- As part of our commitment to quality of service and client care, a central written record of complaints is reviewed regularly and any points arising which indicate a need for us to adjust an existing practice or procedure will be considered. Records will be disposed of in accordance with our Chambers’ retention policies which can be found here.
- We hope that you will use our procedure if you have a complaint you wish to make. However, if you would rather not do so, or are unhappy with the outcome, you have the option of taking your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman or to the Bar Standards Board.
- From 6 October 2010, the Legal Ombudsman has the responsibility for dealing with complaints from our clients about the quality of our service. The Ombudsman will expect us to try to address such complaints in the first instance but will step in if that proves not to be possible. The Legal Ombudsman can only deal with complaints from consumers. (The Legal Ombudsman can also deal only with complaints from individuals and certain other entities.) This means that only complaints from a client of a member of Chambers are within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. Non-clients should contact the Bar Standards Board (the body that regulates the professional conduct of barristers) rather than the Legal Ombudsman. Chambers is not always able to investigate satisfactorily complaints made by non-clients and may refer such complainants to the Bar Standards Board.
- The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
The Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 15870
Birmingham B30 9EB
The Legal Ombudsman will only consider complaints received within the following time limits:
- six years from the date of the act or omission complained of; or
- three years from the date on which the complainant should reasonably have known that there were grounds for complaint (if the act or omission took place before 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago); and
- within six months of the complainant receiving a final response from his or her lawyer, if that response complies with the requirements of rule 4.4 of the Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules (which requires the response to include an explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if the complainant remained dissatisfied, the provision of full contact details for the Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to the Ombudsman within six months).
- The Legal Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances. We will have regard to the applicable time limit in deciding whether we are able to investigate any complaint. We will not normally deal with a complaint that falls outside the time limit applicable to a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
- If you are not a client of Chambers, or if your complaint is about the professional conduct of one of our barristers rather than about the quality of our service, then it would be more appropriate to address your complaint to the Bar Standards Board (the regulatory body for barristers). The contact details for the Bar Standards Board are as follows:
Bar Standards Board
289-293 High Holborn
London WC1V 7HZ
Tel: 020 7611 1444
Fax: 020 7831 9217
- This policy is intended to comply with rule 403.5(d) and Annex S of the Bar Standards Board Code of Conduct and will be operated in accordance with those provisions.
- Further information on the application of this policy to members based in our Singapore office can be found here.