Area of law: Immigration and asylum
Complaint reason(s): Failure to advise, failure to investigate complaint
Remedy: No remedy
Outcome: Ombudsman decision accepted by complainant
Mr N instructed the barrister to represent him at his immigration appeal hearing. At the very outset there was some confusion between Mr N and the barrister. Mr N says that he made the barrister aware of the differences between his evidence and his witness statement and was assured the witness statement would be discarded. The barrister didn’t agree, and believed Mr N had confirmed he was happy with the witness statement.
Mr N’s appeal was refused at the hearing, and he complained to the barrister, believing he had been poorly advised. The chambers responded to say that they felt he had received a reasonable service.
Mr N was still not happy, and so he made enquiries about the solicitor who had instructed the barrister. He discovered that this solicitor was not regulated, and therefore should not have instructed the barrister at all. Mr N went back to the chambers, who responded by saying that the individual had presented himself as a solicitor, and they had believed this when accepting his instructions. They did not feel that this had affected the service from the barrister, and so would not re-investigate his complaint.
Mr N remained disgruntled and so brought his complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. We saw no evidence to say that the barrister would have said the witness statement could be discarded. We also felt the chambers had provided a full response to Mr N, and did not need to reinvestigate his complaint. Finally, we decided that as Mr N himself believed the other party to be a solicitor, it was reasonable for the barrister to have also made this assumption. We therefore decided that no remedy was due to Mr N.