1. Cathedral Chambers aims to provide the best possible service at all times. However, if at any time you have a complaint about the quality of services of our barristers or members of staff you are invited to let us know as soon as possible. It is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint but you are free to do so should you wish.
2. Please note the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has a twelve-month time limit in which a complaint must be raised from the date of the act or omission complained of from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint without taking advice from a third party. The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances. Chambers must therefore 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 twelve month time limit.
3. 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 Chambers’ investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
4. 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 Bar Standards Board. Therefore, Chambers will make an initial assessment of the complaint if they feel that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through the Chambers complaints process they will refer you to the Bar Standards Board.
5. You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraph 7 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone our Clerk to Chambers, Dawn Kipling. If the complaint is about the Clerk to Chambers then please telephone the Chambers Director, Geoff Knowles. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like 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.
6. If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone, you will be invited to write to us about it so it can be investigated formally.
7. Please give the following details:
Please address your letter to:
Cathedral Chambers, Alderman Fenwick’s House, 98-100 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3UG,
We will, where possible acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two working days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
8. Our Chambers has a panel composed of the Chambers Director, Geoff Knowles, and the Chambers Clerk, Dawn Kipling , which considers any written complaint. Within 14 days of your letter being received they, or in their absence one or more senior members of the Management Committee, will investigate the complaint. If your complaint is against the Chambers Director, the next most senior member of the Management Committee in conjunction with the Chambers Clerk will investigate it. In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.
9. 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 later find that they are not going to be able to reply within 14 days they will set a new date for a response and inform you.
The response will set out:
10. 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 member or staff who you have complained about, the head or relevant senior member of the panel and the person who investigates the complaint. The Bar Standards Board is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its auditing and monitoring functions.
11. 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. We undertake an annual review of chambers policies and procedures and an anonymised report of complaints received and issues arisen therefrom is presented to the committee for review.
12. 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 that the Legal Ombudsman has a twelve-month time limit from the day of the act or omission about which you are complaining within which to make your complaint. You can write to them at:
Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Tel: 0300 555 0333