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Complaints Procedure

Paramount Chambers aims to provide high quality services which meet your needs. We believe we achieve this most of the time: if we are not getting it right please let us know.

In order to ensure our services remain at a high and improving standard, we have a procedure through which you can let us know of for any reason you are not satisfied with your dealings with Paramount Chambers.

In line with our friendly and open approach, in the first instance, we would always encourage you to discuss and day-to-day concerns about the services of our barristers directly with them. Any such concerns can also be raised with our clerking team.

Any concerns about members of staff should be raised with one of our clerks as appropriate. If the complaint is about a clerk please discuss the matter with the Head of Chambers.

We would very much hope that the matter can be resolved at this point, and that you will be satisfied with the outcome.

However, if you feel that the concern or matter you have raised has not been dealt with to your satisfaction, then you may wish to make a formal complaint. We set out the steps in our formal complaints procedure below.

Time limit
The Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints body for service complaints about barristers in relation to the services provided. It has time limits in which a complaint must be raised with it.

The time limits are:

  • Six years from the date of the act/omission
  • Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before the 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago)
  • Within six months of the complainant receiving a final response from their barrister.

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 Legal Ombudsman’s time limits.

Complaints to Chambers’ Internal Complaints Committee
Any complaint should be made in writing.

Please give the following details:

  • Your name and address (and email address if you have one)
  • Which member(s) of Chambers you are complaining about
  • The detail of the complaint
  • What you suggest as an acceptable resolution to your complaint.

Please address your letter to:
The Complaints Committee, Paramount Chambers Fox Court, 14 Grays Inn Rd, Holborn, London WC1X 8HN

Dealing with your complaint
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.

There are a number of ways in which your complaint may be dealt with:

  • discussion over the telephone
  • dealt with by correspondence
  • discussion at a meeting between us
  • the appointment of a mediator who will try to facilitate the resolution of your complaint
  • the appointment of an arbitrator whose decision we both agree shall be binding.

Your complaint will be investigated by a member of Paramount Chambers’ Complaints Committee, which may include the Head or Deputy Head of Chambers. If your complaint relates to a member of the Complaints Committee, it will be dealt with by an alternative member or by the Head or Deputy Head of Chambers or, where appropriate, the most senior Member of Chambers.

If we decide to appoint an arbitrator, we both would need to agree how the arbitrator should approach his/her task and the limit of the compensation that can be awarded. The local Circuit will be approached and a barrister will be appointed to arbitrate. However, neither of us may veto the person chosen. It is expected that the Circuit will choose someone who has considerable experience in the area that is the subject matter of the dispute.

Upon receipt of a written complaint the Member of Chambers about whom you have complained or a Member of the Complaints Committee will:

  • reply in writing, normally within 48 hours, to acknowledge the complaint and inform you how they shall be dealing with it.
  • reply within 21 days responding in full to your complaint. They will offer you the opportunity to meet with you if that is appropriate. If they find later that they are not going to be able to reply within 21 days they, will set a new date for their reply and inform you.

The reply will set out:

  • the nature and scope of the investigation
  • the members’ conclusion on each complaint including their basis for each conclusion; and
  • if it is found that you are justified in your complaint, proposals for resolving the complaint.

Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
If you indicate that you are not happy with the written response you may ask for mediation or arbitration or you may make a formal complaint to the Legal Ombudsman in relation to the service you have been provided (not misconduct), the independent complaints handling body for complaints about lawyers relating to service. Please note that the Legal Ombudsman has a six-month time limit from the date of the act or omission about which you are complaining within which to make your complaint.

They can be contacted at:

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton
WV1 9WJ

Tel: 0300 555 0333

Complaints to the Bar Standards Board
For complaints regarding misconduct, please contact:

Complaints Team
Bar Standards Board
289-293 High Holborn
London
WC1V 7HZ

Tel: 020 7611 1444
Fax: 020 7831 9217

More information can be found here: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk


Confidentiality
We 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 auditing and monitoring functions.

We will retain all correspondence and other documents generated in the course of your complaint for a period of six years and we will review complaints at least once a year to ensure that we maintain good standards of service.

PARAMOUNT CHAMBERS: January 2021