FOURTEEN aims to provide you a good service at all times; however, if you have a complaint, it is best to let us know as soon as possible so that we can try to put things right quickly. If you wish to complain about your barrister or chambers, you do not have to go through your solicitor, but you are free to do so, should you wish.
How to make your Complaint
We might be able to quickly resolve your complaint by discussing it with you over the phone, so this is often the best way to first raise your complaint. Please phone FOURTEEN on 020 7242 0858 and ask to speak to our Chambers Director, Robin Jackson, about a complaint. If he is not immediately available, your contact details will be taken and he will phone you back as soon as possible.
The Chambers Director will discuss with you the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. We hope that we will be able to resolve your concerns there and then, although it may be necessary to gain some further information and continue the discussion in a later phone call.
If the matter is resolved over the phone and you are satisfied with the outcome, the Chambers Director will follow up with an email or letter (according to your choice) to confirm this.
If you do not think your complaint has been resolved on the telephone, you will be invited to write to us so it can be investigated formally.
(If your complaint is about a barrister who has not been working for you (that is, they have not been instructed by you or your solicitor), we may be able to resolve the issue informally but we cannot formally investigate it. If you wish to make a formal complaint, you will need to contact the Bar Standards Board, the Bar’s regulatory body. Please see the section below titled “Complaints to the Bar Standards Board.)
Complaints made in Writing
If you wish to complain about a barrister from FOURTEEN who has been working for you and you would prefer to make the complaint in writing from the outset or, after talking to us about your complaint on the phone, you have been invited to put it in writing, please either
- email the Chambers Director at RJackson@Fourteen.co.uk or
- post a letter to The Chambers Director, FOURTEEN, 14 Gray’s Inn Square, London, WC1R 5JP.
We prefer communicating by email, as that is usually quicker and more reliable, but we are very happy to communicate by post if that is better for you.
Please give the following details in your email or letter:
- Your name and address;
- Which barrister(s) or member of staff you are complaining about;
- The detail of the complaint; and
- What you would like done about it.
We will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two working days of receiving it and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.
FOURTEEN has a panel of experienced members of Chambers which considers any written complaint. Within 4 working days of your letter being received, the head of the panel will appoint a member of the panel to investigate it. The person you are complaining about will never be involved in investigating your complaint.
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 24 days. If they find later that they are not going to be able to reply within 24 days, they will set a new date for their reply and inform you. The reply will set out:
- The nature and scope of their investigation;
- Their conclusion on each complaint and the basis for their conclusion; and
- If they find that you are justified in your complaint, their proposals for resolving the complaint.
At FOURTEEN, we will not usually deal with complaints that fall outside the Legal Ombudsman’s one-year time limits – please see “Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman” below.
All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that is strictly necessary to fully investigate your complaint. If the complaint is later referred to the Legal Ombudsman or the Bar Standards Board, it is likely that we will be required to pass to them information relating to our investigation.
As part of our commitment to client care, we make a written record of any complaint and retain all documents and correspondence about the complaint for a period of six years. Our management committee reviews annually an anonymised summary of any complaints in order to improve Chambers’ services to our clients.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the investigation, other bodies exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and the barrister agree to use such a scheme. One such body is ProMediate. If you wish to use ProMediate, please contact us to discuss this further. Please also note that the time limit for contacting ProMediate is 6 weeks from the date you were informed of FOURTEEN’s final decision about your complaint, and, if mediation is used, neither you nor the barrister is required to accept the proposed resolution. If mediation does not resolve the complaint, you may still make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman
If you are unhappy with the outcome of our investigation and whether or not you have attempted mediation, you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent body for resolving complaints about lawyers. The Legal Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by chambers and you must raise your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving the final report from our investigation.
Please note that there are time limits for referring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, which are:
- not later than one year from the date of the act or omission being complained about; or
- not later than one year from the date when the complainant should have realised that there was cause for complaint.
The Legal Ombudsman may exercise discretion to extend these time limits if, on the evidence, it is fair and reasonable to do so, for example, if the complainant was prevented from meeting the time limit as a result of serious illness.
At FOURTEEN, we will not usually deal with complaints that fall outside the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits, although we will also similarly exercise discretion to extend the time limits if, on the evidence, it is fair and reasonable to do so.
If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please:
- Visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk
- Call 0300 555 0333 between 10am and 4pm, Mondays to Friday
- Email email@example.com
- Write to The Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 68-6, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
The Legal Ombudsman publishes data about the final decisions it has made about complaints over the last 12 months, which can be found here.
Complaints to the Bar Standards Board
As mentioned above, neither FOURTEEN nor the Legal Ombudsman will formally investigate a complaint unless you are or were a client of the barrister involved. If you wish to complain about a barrister who was not acting for you, please visit the Bar Standards Board webpage on reporting concerns about barristers for further information and an online reporting form, or write to The Bar Standards Board, 289-293 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7HV.
Updated April 2023