23 September 2019

Complaining about a barrister or other person we regulate who represented you

We cannot usually accept complaints about a barrister, or other person we regulate, that represented you. We can't investigate whether or not you got good value from them, or if they did their job badly (The Legal Ombudsman deals with these complaints). We can only investigate complaints where they may have broken the rules or acted in a way that might damage the public's ability to trust barristers, or other people we regulate. This would include things like acting dishonestly, taking on work they are not qualified for, bullying, being racist or being homophobic.

If you want to make a complaint about your barrister, or another person we regulate who represented you, you should complain to the Legal Ombudsman. If there are parts of your complaint that the Legal Ombudsman thinks we should consider (for example, because they took on work they were not qualified for, or were racist) they will pass your complaint on to us. You don't need to do anything to make this happen.

The Legal Ombudsman can usually only investigate a complaint if you have first complained to your barrister's chambers, or the other person we regulate's place of work, and been unhappy with their response, so you should do that first. If you don't get a response you are happy with, you should make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months.

The Legal Ombudman's website has some very helpful information on making a complaint.

Complaining about an un-registered barrister


If you were given advice or representation by a barrister who was unregistered (this means they do not have a current practising certificate) you can complain directly to us, as the Legal Ombudsman cannot deal with these complaints. This might be someone that represented you at an employment or benefits tribunal. They are not allowed to refer to themselves as barristers when giving you legal help, but are often called things like lay representative or consultant.

We still can't investigate things like whether you got good value, or if they did their job badly, and can't order them to pay compensation, but we can look at whether they have broken the rules for unregistered barristers.

You can check if your barrister is registered by searching The Barristers' Register or by contacting the Bar Council's Records Office (email Membership@BarCouncil.org.uk or call them on 020 7242 0934). They are open Monday 9am-3pm, Tuesday-Thursday 10am-3pm, and Friday 10am-5pm.

"My father-in-law was going to be made to leave the country so we found a barrister to help us appeal the decision. The barrister lied and told us he'd submitted all the paperwork in time but it turns out he hadn't and the deadline for the appeal passed, and there was nothing we could do. My father-in-law was deported, and my wife was heartbroken. We made a complaint to the barrister's chambers but never got a response, so we made a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. They passed the case on to the Bar Standards Board. It took a while, but the barrister was disbarred in the end". 




The information in these pages applies to barristers, and other people we regulate, in England and Wales.

The law that regulates barristers and lawyers is complicated. We have simplified things to give you an idea of how it applies to your situation. Please don't rely on these pages as a complete statement of the law.

The quotes and cases we refer to are not always real but show a typical situation. We hope they help you to understand the system better and think about what might happen to the complaint.