Policies & Procedures

Clerking procedures

Upon receipt of instructions a written acknowledgement will be sent by return.

Within 48 hours of receipt of instructions, the papers will be checked by the clerks for deadlines or limitation periods and allocated to the appropriate counsel.

Paperwork will, wherever possible, be returned within 14 days of receipt unless otherwise agreed with instructing solicitors.

The clerks will review all outstanding work on a weekly basis to ensure that deadlines are met and that our barristers do not become overloaded.

Chambers’ billing structure is clear and will always be explained on request before any work is undertaken.

Fee notes are clear and provide all the necessary information for the purposes of assessment or taxation.

All court or diary bookings will be confirmed by letter, email or fax.

Returns are kept to a minimum and instructing solicitors will be informed in the event of any potential problems with a barrister’s diary.

Conferences can be held at solicitors’ offices or client’s addresses when appropriate.

We always endeavour to respond promptly and efficiently to all communications.

Our procedures are constantly under review and will be changed or adapted to ensure the best possible service to our solicitors and lay clients.

Complaints Policy [PDF]

Our aim is to give you a good service at all times. However if you have a complaint you are invited to let us know as soon as possible. Chambers will only consider complaints that are raised within 12 months of the act or omission complained of.

Complaints by telephone

You may wish to make a complaint in writing, if so, please follow the procedure set out below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint then please telephone the barrister concerned or (if the complaint is about a member of staff or if you feel it more appropriate) Alister Williams the Senior Clerk. If the complaint is about the Senior Clerk telephone Lucinda Davies, the Executive Head of Chambers. The person you contact will make a note of the details of your complaint and what you would like done about it. S/he will discuss your concerns with you and aim to resolve them. If the matter is resolved s/he will record the outcome, check that you are satisfied with the outcome and record that you are satisfied.

Complaints that are resolved in fee negotiations would not normally be recorded as a formal complaint unless the complainant has requested it to be recorded as such. Many complaints may be resolved on immediately on the telephone and you may also wish to record the outcome of the telephone discussion in writing.

If your complaint is not resolved on the telephone you will be invited to write to us about it within the next 14 days so it can be investigated formally.

Complaints made in Writing

Please give the following details: your name and address, which member(s) of chambers you are complaining about; the detail of the complaint; and what you would like done about it. Please address your letter to the Head of Complaints Panel.

Our chambers has a Panel headed by William Emerson and made up of experienced members of chambers and the senior clerk (Alister Williams), which considers any written complaint. Within 14 days of your letter being received the Head of the Complaints Panel or her/his deputy in her/his absence will appoint a member of the Panel to investigate it. If your complaint is against the Head of the Complaints Panel it will be investigated by the next most senior member of the Panel. In any case, the person appointed will be someone other than the person you are complaining about.

The person appointed to investigate will write to you as soon as possible to let you know s/he has been appointed and that s/he will reply to your complaint within 14 days. If s/he finds later that s/he is not going to be able to reply within the 14 days s/he will set a new date for her/his reply and inform you. Her/his reply will set out:

The nature and scope of her/his investigation;

Her/his conclusion on each complaint and the basis for her/his conclusion; and

If s/he finds that you are justified in your complaint, her/his proposals for resolving the complaint.

Confidentiality

As part of our commitment to client care we make a written record of any complaint. Our management committee inspects the record regularly with a view to improving services. These records will be destroyed 6 years after the complaint.

Our Policy

All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that is necessary. Disclosure will be to the Executive Head of Chambers, the Senior Clerk, members of our management committee and to anyone involved in the complaint and its investigation. Such people will include the barrister or member of staff who you have complained about, the Head or relevant senior member of the Complaints Panel and the person who investigates the complaint.

Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman or The Bar Standards Board

If you are unhappy with our conclusion to the investigation you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman or the Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board will deal with complaints about professional misconduct and disciplinary matters whilst the Legal Ombudsman will deal with complaints from barristers’ clients in relation to the services provided by barristers. The Legal Ombudsman does act as a single point of conduct for all complaints, and will ensure that any complaints that relate to professional misconduct are referred to the Bar Standards Board to consider.

It is important to note that the Legal Ombudsman is not able to consider a complaint until it has first been investigated by Chambers and the Ombudsman has a time limit of 12 months from the date of the event giving rise to the complaint or 12 months from the date on which a complainant should reasonably have known, without taking advice, that there was a reason for making a complaint.

The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman and the Bar Standards Board are as follows:

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 15870
Birmingham
B30 9EB

Equality and diversity

Pallant Chambers is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. This applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and partners, other solicitors, barristers, and third parties. Pallant Chambers shall treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:

  • (a) age;
  • (b) disability;
  • (c) gender reassignment;
  • (d) race;
  • (e) religion or belief;
  • (f) sex;
  • (g) sexual orientation;
  • (h) marriage or civil partnership status;
  • (i) pregnancy and maternity or
  • (j) caring responsibility.

Pallant Chambers will take all reasonable steps to make sure that our tenants, pupils and staff do not unlawfully discriminate and that we will comply with the current and any legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination law in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services.

This Equal Opportunities Policy has been adopted by Pallant Chambers. The policy is intended to comply with the regulatory requirements of the Bar Standards Board. In respect of all “relevant areas’ identified below Chambers will have regard to the Equality and Diversity Code for the Bar, which is attached in its current form to this Policy. All Members of Chambers, staff and pupils have been referred to this document and the Equality and Diversity Code for the Bar and have been requested to read the same.

Pallant Chambers has Equality and Diversity Officer. That position is presently occupied by William Emerson. Our Diversity Data Officer is Justin Perring.

RECRUITMENT PUPILS AND TENANTS

Vacancies for pupils and tenants will be advertised. Chambers has a pupillage policy, which includes the selection and assessment procedure. Both pupils and tenants are selected using objective criteria. Members of the Recruitment Committee have undergone the relevant training and are aware of the requirement of this policy and the accompanying guidance in the Equality and Diversity Code for the Bar in order to ensure fair selection.

FAIR ACCESS TO WORK

Pupils and tenants will have the opportunity to develop their practices, with the assistance of the Senior Clerk and his staff, in a fair and equal manner.

Pupils will have regular feedback from their pupil supervisors and the clerks will discuss practice development formally and informally with all tenants. Pupils are provided with further guidance in the pupillage policy.

All pupils and tenants will be encouraged to participate in marketing activities and any social events as may be organised by Chambers from time to time.

MATERNITY, PATERNITY AND PARENTAL LEAVE

Pallant Chambers provides arrangements for maternity leave for members of chambers. Similar arrangements would apply on adoption. In respect of rent, there is provided a rent free period of up to six months for those on maternity leave with a right to return to work within one year. Pallant Chambers will also adopt the guidance provided by the Bar Standards Board in respect of paternity leave.

FLEXIBLE AND PART TIME WORKING AND CAREER BREAK

Any member of chambers may work from home. Various part time and flexible arrangements have been agreed with members of chambers in the past. Chambers will continue to apply a flexible and pragmatic approach to all requests as and when they arise. However, the discretion rests with the Management Committee that will take into account the guidance provided by the Bar Standards Board on this issue and in reaching a decision will comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 or such other legislation (including Regulations) that may be in force in respect of such issues.

HARRASSMENT

Harassment, as defined in the Equality and Diversity Code (and the relevant statutory provisions), is unacceptable and will not be tolerated from Members of Chambers, Pupils or staff. A summary of behaviour that is likely to amount to harassment is found in the Equality and Diversity Code. Further guidance in relation to pupils is to be found in the pupillage policy.

COMPLAINTS AND GRIEVANCES

The pupillage policy contains the appropriate grievance procedure as applies to pupils. Complaints by others outside chambers will be dealt with according to the Pallant Chambers’ Complaints Policy.

Any member of staff who may have a grievance is referred to the Staff Handbook which sets out the full grievance procedure.

If a Member of Chambers has a grievance, then this should be raised with the Senior Clerk. If appropriate, the matter should ideally be dealt with informally and without the need for a written grievance and a written decision.

If the matter is not appropriate for informal resolution, then the Member of Chambers should put his / her grievance in writing and provide this to the Head of Chambers.

The Head of Chambers will arrange to have a meeting with the Member of Chambers to discuss the grievance and the way forward. The Head of Chambers may also invite along to the meeting any other Member of Chambers and / or staff member that they consider appropriate.

Depending on the nature of the grievance, the Head of Chambers may delegate the investigation and decision making to another, senior, Member of Chambers. In either case the Head of Chambers / other senior Member of Chambers will seek to ensure that formal grievances are investigated and determined by more than one Member of Chambers.

Appropriate investigation will be undertaken and a decision will be made, and communicated to the Member of Chambers, in writing, within a reasonable period. No-one will be victimised or suffer any detriment, as properly defined, by reason of their raising a grievance in good faith.

Investigations and decisions will be kept as confidential as the circumstances reasonably permit.

Members of Chambers, Pupils and Staff are encouraged to raise any issues of equality or discrimination with the chambers Equality and Diversity Officer (William Emerson).

SERVICE PROVISION FOR DISABLED CLIENTS

Pallant Chambers has a long history in providing services to clients with physical and mental disability and will continue to do so. Pallant Chambers will make reasonable adjustments to provide services to the disabled.

STAFF IN CHAMBERS

Equal opportunities initiatives in chambers apply to staff as well as members of chambers and pupils. A staff handbook covers a wide range of matters and is referred to above, where relevant.

Other Sources of Information:

Chambers keeps appraised of the guidance offered by the Bar Council. Equality and Diversity guidance and advice (for all concerned) is provided on the internet and is regularly reviewed. The information is currently available on the following link:

https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/about-bar-standards-board/equality-and-diversity/equality-and-diversity-rules-of-the-code-of-conduct/

All Members of Chambers, staff and pupils are encouraged to refer to the same.

Implementation

Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the Management Committee of Pallant Chambers. The Management Committee has an appointed Equality and Diversity Officer who is responsible for the operation of the policy. All barristers, pupils and employees are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and guidance provided by the Bar Standards Board and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their practice or employment. Acts of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds by employees, tenants and pupils and may will result in disciplinary action. Failure to comply with this policy will be treated in a similar fashion. The policy applies to all who are employees, tenants or pupils.

Monitoring

  1. Pallant Chambers will monitor and record equal opportunities information about staff and barristers on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity, and disability.
  2. Where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, we will monitor the sexual orientation and religion or belief of staff and barristers so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them. We are aware that individuals may choose not to disclose their sexual orientation or religion or belief and that care will be taken to avoid inadvertent discrimination in such cases. For the avoidance of doubt the provision of information is voluntary.

We store equal opportunities data as confidential personal data and restrict access to this information. Equal opportunities information will be used for exclusively for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring and have no bearing on opportunities or benefits. Pallant Chambers monitor all elements of:

  1. (i) recruitment and selection process (applicants and existing staff and tenants and pupils.);
  2. (ii) promotion and the allocation of non assigned work;
  3. (iii) training (all training opportunities not restricted to equality and diversity training);
  4. (iv) terms and conditions of employment;
  5. (v) take up of benefits (work life balance policies eg flexible working requests);
  6. (vi) grievance and disciplinary procedures;
  7. (vii) resignations;

Reviews

This policy will be the subject of yearly reviews by the Management Committee. Monitoring of the policy will normally form part of the Management Committee agenda.

Date of next review 01/10/2018