Richard Matthews QC has adopted the Model Complaints Procedure for Sole Practitioners in Appendix 2 of the Bar Standards Board Handbook , with very minor variations intended to provide greater clarity:
- Richard Matthews QC aims to give all his clients (professional and lay) a good service at all times. However, if you have a complaint please let Richard Matthews QC know as soon as possible, by telephone or in writing. Your complaint will be treated as confidential although Richard Matthews QC may discuss it with other barristers or officials from the Bar Standards Board as part of their monitoring functions. Richard Matthews QC will not reveal your name to others unless he appoints an independent person to investigate a complaint or set up mediation.Richard Matthews QC will deal with your complaint promptly.
- Please note that the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for service complaints about lawyers, has time limits in which a complaint must be raised with them. The time limits are:
- The act or omission, or when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint, must have been after 5 October 2010; and
- The complainant must refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman no later than six years from the act/omission, or three years from when the complainant should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.
- The complainant must also refer the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of the complaint receiving a final response from their lawyer, if that response complies with the requirements in rule 4.4 of the Scheme Rules (which requires the response to include prominently an explanation that the Legal Ombudsman was available if the complainant remained dissatisfied, and the provision of full contact details for the Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint must be referred to them within six months).
- Richard Matthews QC must have regard to that timeframe when deciding whether he is able to investigate your complaint. Richard Matthews QC will not therefore usually deal with complaints that fall outside of the Legal Ombudsman’s time limits. The Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances.
- The Ombudsman will also only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from the barrister’s client are within their jurisdiction. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation should contact the Bar Standards Board rather than the Legal Ombudsman.
- It should be noted that it may not always be possible to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. This is because Richard Matthews QC’s ability to satisfactorily investigate and resolve such matters is limited and complaints of this nature are often better suited to the disciplinary processes maintained by the Bar Standards Board. Therefore, Richard Matthews QC will make an initial assessment of the complaint and if he feels that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through this complaints process he will refer you to the Bar Standards Board.
- If you wish to make a complaint by telephone, a note will be made of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. Richard Matthews QC will endeavour to resolve matters with you on the telephone (either on that call, or in a subsequent telephone conversation). If after discussion you are satisfied with the outcome a note will be made of the outcome and the fact that you are satisfied. If you are not satisfied you may wish to make a written complaint.
- If you wish to make a written complaint please give the following details: Your name, telephone number and address; The detail of your complaint; and, what you would like done about it.
- 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 with Richard Matthews QC;
- The appointment of an independent person to investigate the complaint.
- If it is decided to appoint an independent person to investigate the complaint (for example, a barrister in another chambers), both Richard Matthews QC and you would need to agree who to appoint. An independent person who has considerable experience in the area that is the subject matter of the dispute should be chosen.
- Upon receipt of a written complaint Richard Matthews QC will:
- Reply in writing, normally within 48 hours, to acknowledge the complaint and inform you how it will be dealt with.
- Reply within 14 days responding in full to your complaint. Richard Matthews QC will offer you the opportunity to meet (either virtually or in person) with you if that is appropriate. If unable to reply within 14 days, Richard Matthews QC will set a new date for his reply and inform you. His reply will set out:
- The nature and scope of his investigation;
- His conclusion on each complaint and the basis for his conclusion; and
- If he finds that you are justified in your complaint, his proposals for resolving the complaint.
- If you are not happy with the final written response and you fall within their jurisdiction, you may make a formal complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints handling body for complaints about lawyers. Please note the timeframe for referral of complaints to the Ombudsman as set out at paragraph 2 above. Those clients who are able to complain to the Legal Ombudsman are as follows:
- Businesses or enterprises that are micro-enterprises within the meaning of Article 1 and Article 2(1) and (3) of the Annex to Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC (broadly businesses or enterprises with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or assets not exceeding €2 million);
- Charities with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;
- Clubs, associations or organisations, the affairs of which are managed by its members or a committee of its members, with an annual income net of tax of less than £1 million;
- Trustees of trusts with an asset value of less than £1 million; and,
- Personal representatives or beneficiaries of the estates of persons who, before they died, had not referred the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
- You can write to the Legal Ombudsman at:
PO Box 6806
Telephone number: 0300 555 0333
- More information about the Legal Ombudsman is available on their website: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/
- If you are unhappy with the final written response, alternative complaints bodies (such as ProMediate) also exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services. If you wish to use Promediate, please contact Richard Matthews QC to discuss this within 28 days of the final written response. Please also note that if mediation is used, neither you nor Richard Matthews QC is required to accept the proposed resolution. If mediation does not resolve the complaint, you may still make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman (provided you fall within their jurisdiction and you do so within the time limit).
- If you are not Richard Matthews QC’s client and are unhappy with the outcome of the complaint investigation then please contact the Bar Standards Board at:
Bar Standards Board
Contact and Assessment Team 289-293 High Holborn
Telephone number: 0207 6111 444
- Richard Matthews QC 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 monitoring functions.
- Richard Matthews QC will retain all correspondence and other documents generated in the course of your complaint for a period of six years and will review complaints at least once a year to ensure that good standards of service are maintained.