Legal Ombudsman Scheme: Our First-tier Complaints Handling Procedure

A: Introduction

1. You may make a complaint direct to us.

2. We encourage you to make any complaint promptly and we may decline to deal with your complaint if it is about something that happened more than two years ago.

3. Our Complaints Handling Procedure is set out below. It is free of charge (there is no charge for making a complaint and we bear the cost of operating it).

4. The procedure is voluntary. However, if you are thinking of making a complaint under The Legal Ombudsman Scheme ("the LeO Scheme") he will usually require you to make a complaint to us first.

5. The LeO Scheme deals with complaints about the service received by the client whom the barrister was acting for in court (or advising out of court). Services which are covered by the LeO Scheme mainly consist of advice given (on paper or verbally), documents prepared in the case and court appearances by the barrister (including any advice given, or negotiations which take place, outside court). It also covers complaints about the service provided by our staff a link to the Legal Ombudsman can be found here. The Legal Ombudsman records data of the complaints it has investigated. That data can be found here.

6. If your complaint involves allegations of professional misconduct or professional negligence it may be that our Complaints Handling Procedure is not suitable to resolve it, or part of it. You will be informed if it is considered that your complaint is wholly or partially unsuitable for our Complaints Handling Procedure for this reason.

7. Any complaint which involves an allegation of professional negligence or any other possible claim on the barrister's insurer will be reported to it even though the complaint is being investigated under our Complaints Handling Procedure. This is a requirement of the insurance.

8. We do expect you to cooperate with reasonable requests for further information and for clarification of your complaint and we reserve the right to complete our Complaints Handling Procedure on the information you have given so far if you persistently or in substance fail to cooperate in these respects or fail to respond to our correspondence in a reasonable time or at all.

9. Our procedure is exclusively to deal with complaints by clients.

B: When and How to Make a Complaint

By Telephone

10. You may complain by telephone or in writing.

11. If we are not able to take your call, please send email us using the email address shown on every page of this website requesting a call back.

12. When we speak to you, we will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like to have done about it. We will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved he will record the outcome on our Case Management System, check you are satisfied with the outcome and also record you are satisfied.

13. If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be encouraged to make a formal complaint in writing within the next 14 days to enable an investigation to take place. If we do not receive a written complaint within 14 days no formal complaint will be recorded and we will continue our usual procedures to collect unpaid invoices.

In Writing

14. To make a formal complaint in writing send a letter addressed to Mr David Bowden. This can be sent to our registered office address which is on this website in the "Registered Details" section. You can also send it by email to the email address which appears on every page of this website.

15. Your letter should give the following details:

  • (1) If possible, our number for your matter (found on all invoices or correspondence from us).
  • (2) Your name and address. Please ensure you will receive correspondence at this address. Please also give an email address and a daytime telephone number if possible.
  • (3) Which member of staff you are complaining about.
  • (4) What you are complaining about.
  • (5) What you would like done about it.

16. If you have a disability or are not fluent in written English and as a result have difficulty in carrying out this procedure yourself, you may ask someone else to make a written complaint on your behalf. We may require proof that you have given him or her authority and on what basis.

C: How we will deal with your complaint

17. All correspondence from us will be to the postal address or email address you have given us. It is up to you to ensure that you receive our correspondence.

18. We will acknowledge we have received your written complaint by writing to you as soon as reasonably possible, usually within 2 working days of receipt. ("Working days" means weekdays, excluding weekends and the usual bank holidays). We will send you a copy of this procedure and

19. We will write to you as soon as possible. In our initial response letter we will ask you for any clarification or further information we believe is necessary fairly to deal with your complaint. The letter will also set out the intended procedure to deal with your complaint. Usually our procedure is that we will consider your complaint on the material you have provided and then put the response to you for any further comments you wish to make in answer to it.

20. We will usually within 28 working days send you a decision letter:

  • (1) Summarising our understanding of your complaint
  • (2) Summarising what investigations we have made
  • (3) Setting out our conclusion on the complaint and brief reasons for the conclusion
  • (4) Setting out any proposals we make for resolving your complaint.
  • (5) Informing you, that if you qualify under the LeO Scheme, the time in which you may make a further complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.

21. If more time is needed to reach a decision the appointed person will write to you within the 28 day period saying what the extended time for the decision letter will be.

22. Except in a case of obvious factual error, our Complaints Handling Procedure ends with this decision letter. If you do not accept our response you may, if you qualify for his scheme, make a further complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within 12 months of our decision letter. Equally, if we have sent you a letter declining to deal with your complaint the 12 months will run from the date of that letter

23. There is also an overall time limit for complaints to the Legal Ombudsman which is generally 6 years from the date of the incident complained about.

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