1. The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple wants the Inn to be a welcoming environment for all, providing excellent facilities and opportunities for our members, and high-quality service. We are also fully committed to equality and diversity, in accordance with our values. We recognise that sometimes things go wrong, and that our members and staff are fallible. This policy exists to ensure that anyone experiencing distress, loss or frustration in their dealings with the Inn are able to report the problem and, where appropriate and possible, steps are taken to redress the situation or to learn from it, so that it does not reoccur.
2. This policy is to be used for all complaints relating to
- The Inn’s processes, facilities, member events, services or personnel.
- The behaviour or actions of the Inn’s members or tenants in the context of their involvement with the Inn.
Separate policies exist for complaints;
about harassment - and
about data protection - for staff members, using the Inn’s grievance processes and for complaints about the conduct of student members, details of which are available from the Director of Education.
Any complaints about professional standards or conduct of Inn members already Called to the Bar should be directed to the Bar Standards Board.
Complaints about catering or events from external customers should be addressed to the Head of Catering & Events – Jordan Andrews who will escalate these to the Under Treasurer when required.
We will aim to maintain confidentiality throughout the process of the complaint. However, if this is impossible in the circumstances, we will explain that to the complainant.
4. Monitoring and Reporting
We will keep anonymised records of all formal complaints, investigations and subsequent outcomes. These records can be used by the Inn to inform relevant Committees and members of any patterns and to improve our service.
5. Raising Concerns and Complaints
There are two ways open to an individual wishing to make a complaint - Informal or Formal. In all cases, initial contact should be made with a designated Inn employee, as soon as reasonably possible after the incident.
We ask that complainants clearly set out details of their complaint, the consequences of what happened, and set out how they would like to see the situation resolved. The Inn will issue a written acknowledgement within five working days of their complaint being received. This acknowledgement will detail the complaint handling procedure (i.e. either informal or formal) and will provide approximate timelines. If the formal procedure is to be followed, this will also confirm the investigating officer appointed, expectations for the investigation and future responses.
We hope that most complaints will be easily resolved, and investigation is not required because the nature of the complaint is clear, and where the issues raised are straightforward. The Inn will take every opportunity to resolve complaints following the informal procedure. Should this be unacceptable, a formal complaint can be lodged for formal investigation (see section 8).
6. Initially, complaints should be addressed to:
- The Head of Membership (if the complaint concerns member events, or the conduct of members)
- The Director of Education (if the complaint relates to students or education issues)
- The Director of Estates (if the complaint relates to facilities or tenants)
- The Librarian (if the matter concerns the library.)
- The Under Treasurer (if the complaint relates to staff, or anything else.)
Complaints will be acknowledged within five working days of receipt. Complainants will receive a subsequent response to their complaint within the next ten working days.
If the resolution is not to their satisfaction, the complainant will be offered the option of progressing their complaint (see section 7 below).
7. To make a formal complaint, an individual should contact the Under Treasurer. Within this notification, individuals should outline that they wish the formal process and an investigation into the complaint be initiated. If the complaint is about the Under Treasurer, an individual should alert the Treasurer, directly.
The complainant should provide written details of their complaint including as much detail as possible to allow an investigation. On receipt of a formal complaint, if it is one which can be dealt with by the Inn, a case will be opened and undertaken by the Under Treasurer, though they may appoint a separate person to investigate. If the Under Treasurer is conflicted, another Director of the Inn will be asked to lead the investigation.
Complaints will be acknowledged within five days and details the formal complaint handling procedure; provide approximate timelines; the investigator appointed, and expectations for the investigation and future responses will be offered. The investigator will gather all necessary documents and information to make an independent and impartial review of the complaint. Internal interviews will be minuted and the notes added to the record. This will be undertaken as quickly and fairly as possible. Once the complaint has been investigated in full, the investigator will examine all of the evidence and review the findings with another, impartial, Inn employee designated for this purpose. Once a decision has been reached, the investigator will draft a final response letter to the complainant with their findings and decision regarding any action(s) to be taken. Some issues will be more complex and therefore may require longer to be fully investigated. Consequently, there are no set timescales given for handling and responding to complaints. If a matter requires more detailed investigation, complainants will receive an interim response describing what is being done to deal with the matter, and when a full reply can be expected and from whom.
Complainants may ask for their complaint and the response to be further reviewed. A suitable Inn employee, or a member of the Executive Committee, not involved in the case to date, will be appointed to undertake this review. The Inn aims to complete this process within ten working days.