Client Care Statement

Introduction

Exchange Chambers has a long-standing reputation for excellent service of which we are, justifiably, proud. Nevertheless, we are not complacent. We are aware that increasing emphasis is being placed on the efficiency with which legal services are delivered and the consequent satisfaction of those who receive them. Members are committed, therefore, to excellence in both the legal and non-legal aspects of our service, to fully meeting clients’ needs and expectations and to providing an outstanding service at all times.

This is something that is not left to chance. We have adopted in full the Bar Council’s recommendations for Quality Assurance management (verified on your behalf by external assessors) to ensure we succeed.

Furthermore, we have set out below essential information on our standards of operating and the criteria on which our fees are charged in the interests of clarity. We believe that the basis of excellent service is clear understanding by both parties of exactly what can be expected.

I Dealing With Exchange Chambers

a. Briefing Counsel for Hearing

Instructing Solicitors may book Counsel by telephone, letter, fax or e-mail. Upon the requested booking, a member of our clerking team will confirm whether or not the requested Counsel will be available for the hearing date.

If it is anticipated that the requested Counsel will be unavailable for the hearing date, you will be notified and reserve Counsel will be agreed with you.

If the reserve Counsel takes over responsibility for the case he or she is obliged to discuss the case with the original Counsel booked, in advance of the hearing.

To assist us in fulfilling our commitment to you, we ask you in return:

i. To notify us of the hearing date as soon as possible;

ii. To supply briefs as early as possible and in good time for the hearing;

iii. In the event of a hearing being unlikely to be effective, to notify us as soon as possible.

b. Instructing Counsel for Paperwork

We seek to ensure that instructions for paperwork are with Counsel on the day of their delivery.

Chambers’ general service standard for return of paperwork by Counsel is 28 days. This applies to:

  • Defences/Amended Defences - unless an earlier date is stipulated;
  • All other Pleadings and Affidavits
  • Advices

Exceptions to this may be agreed for specific repeat/long term work, in which case they are confirmed in unique service agreements with clients.

Should you require paperwork to be dealt with urgently or in a shorter time than indicated above, please mark the papers in red ink on the back sheet "URGENT - PAPERS REQUIRED BY (date) ".

Unless marked to the contrary or covered by a unique service agreement, it is assumed that the 28day timescale is acceptable and the matter will be progressed on that basis.

c. Acknowledging Receipt of Briefs and Instructions

All briefs or instructions received by us are acknowledged by email by return. The barrister to whom they are assigned checks them within 3 working days to ensure all documents listed by you have been received. If any discrepancy is found you will be informed immediately. If any requirements or instructions cannot be accommodated you will be informed immediately. If the barrister is unable to comply with this initial check timescale, such as when out of town/on holiday, you will be informed.

d. Returning Briefs and Instructions

On the conclusion of a matter or piece of work, all papers are returned to the instructing solicitor. Exchange Chambers do not hold, file or store any documents relating to cases. We maintain only a computer-based records created for our administrative purposes. If for any reason it becomes apparent that a barrister may not be available to fulfil an agreed commitment, you will be warned immediately. As soon as it is known for sure you will be informed and papers will be returned with your agreement to the new counsel.

II Terms Of Business

e. Level of Fees in Civil/Commercial Work

e.1 Brief Fees

In fast track Personal Injury cases standard rates will apply.

In multi track,small claims and commercial cases, wherever possible, we will agree fees with you after delivery of the brief and prior to the hearing based upon the following criteria:

i. Seniority/expertise of Counsel instructed;

ii. Complexity of the case;

iii. Value of the claim;

iv. Preparation time;

v. Length of hearing including conference on the hearing date;

vi. Any expenses such as hotel or travel.

e.2 Conference Fees

You may wish to agree with us an hourly rate for preparation time and length of conference in advance of the conference. The hourly rate will be based upon criteria (i), (ii) and (iii) above. Otherwise, fees for conferences will be assessed after the conference has taken place based upon criteria (i) to (vi) above.

e.3 Paperwork Fees

You may wish to agree with us an hourly rate for preparation time upon delivery of the papers. The hourly rate will be based upon criteria (i), (ii) and (iii) above. Otherwise, paperwork fees will be assessed after the work has been completed based upon criteria (i) to (vi) above, as applicable.

e.4 Conditional Fee Agreements

Members of Chambers are prepared in principal to undertake cases subject to Conditional Fee Agreements. The terms will be negotiated in each case.

Fee charging for briefs for hearings, conferences and paperwork in Conditional Fee Agreement cases is the same as for civil/commercial work as above.

f. Level of Fees in Family Cases

Fees charged for hearings, conferences and paperwork in Legally Funded cases will be in accordance with the Legal Services Commission’s regulations for Counsel’s fees. Where a non-standard fee publicly funded Graduated Fee is claimed, the basis for the claim will be set out in a case report. We will provide, on request, a likely fee level where a non-standard fee is going to be charged to enable you to obtain appropriate funding from the Legal Services Commission.

The level of fees in privately funded family cases in respect of briefs for hearings, conferences and paperwork will be based on the same criteria as for civil/commercial work above but may also include, where appropriate:

vii) The weight and seriousness of the case;

viii) The importance of the matter to the lay client.

g. Level of Fees in Criminal Cases

In prosecution case we will adhere to the fee structure and provisions for arranging fees that are established with the Crown Prosecution Service or other prosecuting agencies.

In respect of defence Legally Funded work, where Counsel is paid separately, we will deal direct with the appropriate authorities.

In respect of defence privately funded work, we will agree fees with you after delivery of the brief and prior to the hearing, based on the following criteria:

i. Seniority/expertise of Instructed Counsel;

ii. Complexity of the case;

iii. Seriousness of the charge;

iv. Preparation times;

v. Length of hearing, including conference on the day of the hearing;

vi. Any expenses such as hotel or travel.

h. Fee Notes

On completion of our work on a matter, all briefs, instructions or other material will be retuned to you and with an up-to-date fee note. Our fee notes record the services (hearing/conference/paperwork) for which the charge is made together with the dates thereof. In addition, where appropriate, the fee note will note the value of the case, importance of the case to the client, preparation time, length of conference, length of hearing and any expenses (at cost) incurred.

In the event of a brief fee not being agreed prior to the hearing, for example, where we are unable to make contact with the instructing solicitor, an email will be sent giving the fee proposed. If the suggested fee is not acceptable to you, we will ask you to make contact with us within 7 days to discuss a mutually acceptable fee.

i. Payment of Fees

Unless we have agreed to the contrary, we require payment of fees pursuant to the Bar Council’s Guidelines and the Legal Services Commission’s Guidelines for the time being. These concur with the Law Society’s Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors which advises:

"In non-legal aid cases, where there is no special agreement, counsel’s fees must be paid or challenged within 3 months of the delivery of the fee note at the conclusion of the case, whether or not the solicitor has been put in funds by the client or has taxed the costs."

III Special Care

j. Conflicts of Interest

Clerks are fully aware of the potential for conflicts of interest arising and care is taken at the outset, before briefs or instructions are accepted or Counsel recommended, to ensure no such conflicts exist. However, they are not always apparent until Counsel receives the papers and work has begun. Whatever the situation, you will be informed immediately a conflict becomes apparent and alternative Counsel will be recommended.

k. Feedback

We invite feedback of whatever nature, both positive and negative, from our professional and lay clients as to the quality of our services. Clerks and Members of Chambers note your comments and pass them on to our Practice Manager for review. This is the way we ensure that our services are meeting your needs. Furthermore, there may be occasions when we ask you for specific comments on the quality of our service and hope you will bear with us in the interests of improving it wherever possible.

l. Complaints

Although seldom used, we have a recognised procedure for dealing with complaints that ensures they are given proper attention, and a suitable remedy is found without delay. The Complaints Procedure is available on request and can be seen on our website.

m. Data Protection Act

Members are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.

n. Equal Opportunities

Exchange Chambers adhere to the requirements of the Equality Code for The Bar. This is a direct requirement of the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales.

Members, staff and pupils do not discriminate directly or indirectly against or victimise anyone on the grounds of their sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, citizenship, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, religion, age or political persuasion.

Chambers is committed to making such adjustments as are reasonable to avoid any provision criterion or practice adversely impacting on any person by reason of their status as a disabled person.

Our Diversity Data is detailed below (updated September 2014).

Gender Male Gender Female Ethnicity White Ethnicity Other Working with a Disability Flexible Working Available
Members 74% 26% 98% 2% 1% Yes
Pupils 34% 66% 100% 0% 0% Yes
Staff 45% 55% 97% 0% 0% Yes

Age

18-20 21-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Members - 6% 35% 26% 31% 2%
Pupils - 100% - - - -
Staff - 20% 60% 8% 2% 10%

IV Ethical Practice Statement

ANTI-BRIBERY POLICY

OUR COMMITMENT

Exchange Chambers operates a zero-tolerance approach to Bribery and is committed to ethical practice.  Barristers and staff must not offer, promise of give a bribe or receive, ask for or agree to accept a bribe in the course of their employment by or membership of Exchange Chambers.  We expect any agents associated with Exchange Chambers to have a similarly intolerant approach to Bribery and Corruption in all its forms.

HOSPITALITY
Hospitality offered by Exchange Chambers, members and staff will always be proportionate, reasonable and transparent.  We understand and are sensitive to the demands placed on many of our clients including those working for the Government.

DUE DILIGENCE
Exchange Chambers will assess the risk of bribery in any given business relationship.  This will be done in a proportionate and common-sense way.  In so doing, and in order to mitigate any potential risk, Exchange Chambers will seek information from parties to that business relationship.

COMMUNICATION
Exchange Chambers is committed to informing its members, employees, agents and associates about the risks involved in bribery and what the consequences are to the individual and the Chambers would be if there were to be an instance of bribery.  Where appropriate, individual members or employees will receive training to assist the identification and mitigation of risk.

REVIEW
Exchange Chambers recognises that it will need constantly to review its approach bribery risk.