Complaints about Barristers

The Barristers profession in England and Wales has many of its own rules and regulations regarding good practice. It prides itself of being independent and not having the government or any other authority interfere in its practice. However, what are the processes and procedures when it comes to complaint handling process? The following will show the rules and procedures that one needs to be aware of. 

 If you wish to make a compliant about a solicitor a different process is involved.

Complaints Procedures in Chambers as regards to Clients

This is detailed in s 403.2 (d) in the Bar Standard Boards Code of Conduct

  • Basically whenever a complaint is made to a barrister they must deal with these complaints in a way which is polite, punctual and deals with the relevant issues. Furthermore every Chambers must have its own complaints procedure which must be available to the client should they ask for one.

How Complaints must be handled in Chambers 

Requirements according to Annex S of the Code of Conduct:

  • The most important information is that when barristers are instructing a lay client or a professional they must as soon as possible inform them that a complaints procedure form is available should they request one and that they need not make a complaint through a solicitor but can do so directly (s1 a & b)
  • Furthermore complaints procedures must be available to both professional clients and lay clients as well as any intermediaries.

Response to Clients 

According to s 5 a to c of Annex S of the Code of Conduct:

  • After prompt acknowledgement of complaint the complainant must be given the name and description of the individual within Chambers who will deal with that complaint, be provided with a copy of the complaints procedure form, and be informed of the date when the claimant will further hear from the Chambers.

Accordingly, s 6 a to b of the Code of Conduct, the following needs to be done if a complaint is referred to the Commissioner:

  • The Head of Chambers must notify the Commissioner after 6 weeks of the referral as regards to the progress or outcome of the consideration of the complaint and when there is no outcome update the Commissioner every 6 weeks until there is an outcome at which point the commissioner must be notified.

Complaints against Barristers through the Disciplinary Tribunal Process

The following information is based on the Bar Standard Board’s ‘Complaints against Barristers’ document and the Annexe J- Complaint Rules 2009.

When complaints against a Barrister can be adjudicated using the Disciplinary Tribunal Process?

Complaints about a barrister will only be sent to a Disciplinary Tribunal after there is a thorough investigation which accumulates enough evidence to show a breach of the Code of Conduct so the complaint will be sent for adjudication.

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For more information on:

  • Respective Roles of the Bar Standards Board and Complainant in Proceedings:
  • Different Types of Tribunals and the Authority they have:
  • Three Person Disciplinary Tribunals
  • Five Person Disciplinary Tribunals
  • The Process of Disciplinary Tribunals
  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4