Confidentiality and compulsory disclosure of information and Complaints
40. Your barrister is under a strict professional duty to keep your affairs confidential. This legal professional privilege protects your communications with your barrister from disclosure. The only exception is that any lawyer, eg a barrister or a solicitor, may be required by law to disclose information to governmental or other regulatory authorities, and to do so without first obtaining your consent to such disclosure or telling you that they have made it. For more information contact: the Professional Practice Team on 020 7611 1444 8
41. If you have a complaint about your barrister, then in the first instance, you should try the complaints system maintained by your barrister or his or her Chambers. Information on how to do this should have been provided to you in the initial client care letter.
42. If you are not satisfied with the handling or outcome of your complaint by your barrister or his or her Chambers, then you can contact the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is an independent organisation. It deals with complaints about the service provided by all types of lawyers in England and Wales. The Legal Ombudsman can decide whether or not the service you received from your barrister was satisfactory, and can:
- Award compensation for poor service;
- Consider whether the fees paid, or have been charged, should be reduced; and
- Decide whether you should receive an apology.
43. Any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within 6 months of receiving the final response to your complaint from your barrister or his/her Chambers (provided the response specifically notifies you of your right to complain to the Ombudsman and of the six month time limit). A complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must also not be made more than 6 years after the problems arising and not more than 3 years after you become aware of the problem.
44. The Legal Ombudsman will assess your complaint and determine whether there are any concerns about professional misconduct (professional misconduct is when a barrister has not kept to the Code of Conduct for barristers, and, as a result, disciplinary action might need to be taken.). If your complaint relates to potential professional misconduct, the Legal Ombudsman will refer the relevant parts of your complaint to the Bar Standards Board for consideration. If your complaint needs to be referred you do not need to do anything. The Legal Ombudsman will let you know if any aspect of your complaint has been referred and the Bar Standards Board will also contact you to confirm this.
45. The Legal Ombudsman can give you more detailed information on how to make a complaint. You can contact the Legal Ombudsman: By phone: 0300 555 0333 By email: [email protected] Through their website: www.legalombudsman.org.uk By post: PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ