Robin Somerville - Resolving Legal Problems

Robin Somerville - Complaints Procedure

The first part of this complaints procedure relates to my regulated practise offering legal services as a barrister. If you would like to make a complaint in respect of my practise as a mediator, please scroll down this page to the section starting Complaints Procedure - Mediation.


1.      My aim is to give you a good service at all times. However, if you have a complaint in respect of the service I have provided you are invited to let me know as soon as possible. A copy of this Procedure is permanently available on my website is not necessary to involve solicitors in order to make your complaint but you are free to do so should you wish.

Time limits for complaints

2.      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:

(a)    Six years from the date of the act/omission;

(b)     Three years from the date that the complainant should reasonably have known there were grounds for complaint (if the act/omission took place before the 6 October 2010 or was more than six years ago);

(c)     Withinsix months of the complainant receiving a final response from Chambers, if thatresponse complies with the requirements in rule 4.4 of the Legal Ombudsman Scheme Rules (whichrequires the responseto include prominently an explanation that recourse to the Legal Ombudsman wasavailable if the complainant remained dissatisfied and the provision of fullcontact details for the Legal Ombudsman and a warning that the complaint mustbe referred to them within six months)

3.      The Legal Ombudsman can extend the time limit in exceptional circumstances. I must therefore have regard to that time frame when deciding whether I am able to investigate your complaint, and will usually decline to deal with complaints that fall outside the Legal Ombudsman's time limits.

4.      The Legal Ombudsman will also only deal with complaints from consumers. This means that only complaints from the my clients are within their jurisdiction. Non-clients who are not satisfied with the outcome of the my investigation should contact the Bar

Standards Boardrather than the Legal Ombudsman (see further as to this the concludingtwo paragraphs of this procedure).

5.      It should be noted that it may not always be possible for me to investigate a complaint brought by a non-client. This is because the ability of me to investigate satisfactorily 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, I will make an initial assessment of the complaint and if I feel that the issues raised cannot be satisfactorily resolved through my complaints process I will refer you to contact the Bar Standards Board.

Complaints Made by Telephone

6.      You may wish to make a complaint in writing and, if so, please follow the procedure in paragraph 8 below. However, if you would rather speak on the telephone about your complaint, then please telephone me on 020 8242 4106 and tell me what your complaint is about and what you believe should be done about it. I will seek to resolve your complaint  there and then. If the matter is resolved, the outcome will be recorded, you will be asked to confirm that you are satisfied with the outcome and a record will be made that you are satisfied. You may also wish to record the outcome of the telephone discussion in writing yourself.

7.      If your complaint is not resolved informally as above, you will be invited to write to me about it so that it can be investigated.

Complaints made in Writing

8.       Please give the following details:

·     Your name and address;

·     The detail of the complaint; and

·     What you believe should be done about it.

9.      Please address your letter to meat the address above and email it to I will, where possible, acknowledge receipt of your complaint within two days and provide you with details of how your complaint will be dealt with.

10.      I am a sole practitioner. Therefore I will be the person looking into your complaint. Within 14 days of your letter being received I will consider how best I should investigate it.

11.      I will then reply to your complaint within 14 days if possible. If however I conclude the nor finds later that I am not going to be able to reply within 14 days, I will set a different date for my reply and inform you of that date and of the reasons for the delay. In the course of my investigation I will speak to any other people I identify as having something to contribute. I will also review all relevant documents and if necessary will revert to you for further information and/or clarification. My report at the end of that process will be sent to you and will set out:

·     the nature and scope of myinvestigation;

·     my conclusion on each complaint and the basis in each case for my conclusion; and

·     if I find that you are justified in your complaint, my proposals for resolving the complaint.


12.      I shall have power to adopt any of the measures listed below, namely.

(a)    the dismissal of the complaint;

(b)    a decision that no action will be taken on the complaint;

(c)     to write a letter of apology or explanation to the complainant;

(d)     to waiveor repay a professional fee or part thereof;

(e)     to pay compensation to thecomplainant limited to £750;

(f)     to refer the conduct of the barrister to the Bar Standards Board.

Appeal by the Complainant

13.      If you are dissatisfied with my decision in respect of your complaint, you may appeal within seven days of notification of the decision. Because I am a sole practitioner, I will be the person considering your appeal. I may (i) dismiss the appeal or (ii) vary the proposed outcome.

Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (“BMIF”)and its inter-relation with complaints

14.      Any complaint which involves an allegation of negligence or any other possible claim under professional indemnity insurance must be reported forthwith to Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Ltd. Any complaint involving any interaction with the BMIF will be paused until such time as dealings with them has been completed or they advise I should respond.


15.      All conversations and documents relating to the complaint will be treated as confidential and will be disclosed only to the extent that is necessary. The Bar Standards Board is entitled to inspect the documents and seek information about the complaint when discharging its auditing and monitoring functions.

Document Retention Policy

16.      As part of my commitment to client care I make a written record of any complaint and retain all documents and correspondence generated by the complaint for a period of at least six years.

Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman or Bar Standards Board

17.      If you are unhappy with the outcome of my investigation and you fall within their jurisdiction you may take up your complaint with the Legal Ombudsman, the independent complaints body for complaints about lawyers, at the conclusion of our consideration of your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman is not able to consider your complaint until it has first been investigated by me. Please note the time-frame for referral of complaints to the Legal Ombudsman as set out at paragraphs 2 and 3above.

You can write to them at:

Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806,

Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ

Telephone number: 0300 555 0333


18.      If you are not the barrister's client and are unhappy with the outcome of my investigation then please contact the Bar Standards Board at:

Bar Standards Board

Professional Conduct Department

289-293 High Holborn

London WC1V 7JZ

Telephone number: 0207 6111 444

Website :

Complaints Procedure - Mediation.

In respect of my practise as a mediator, the spirit of the complaints procedure of my practise as a barrister will remain as set out above and will be honoured. However, you will not normally have the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman or the Bar Standards Board because when acting as a mediator, I am not providing a legal service as mediation is not a "legal service" and thus not regulated activity.

However, as a Fellow of the Civil Mediation Council, I commit to adhering to any requirement set out by the CMC as set out in this document or any other that the CMC issue from time to time:

Therefore, in respect of my practise as a mediator:

- All complaints will be acknowledged in writing within 5 working days of receipt

- All complaints will be investigated and responded to within 21 working days of receipt. On occasion, further time may be required, in which case the you shall be notified of this in writing

- Because I am a sole practitioner, there is no one to appeal to should you not be satisfied with my response.

- However, if you remain disatisfied, you can appeal to the CMC on certain grounds. Details of the CMC's appeal processes can be found here: or in accordance with any other provisions set out on the CMC's website from time to time.

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