Our Chambers Standards and Transparency
Equality & Diversity
Walnut House is an equal opportunity organisation. We are committed to ensuring that within the framework of the Equality Act 2010, our chambers is free from discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, citizenship, nationality, sex, marital status or sexual orientation, disability, age or religion. Chambers anti-racism statement can be viewed here.
This applies not only to our members, staff and trainees but to all our existing and potential clients and any provider of services to chambers. Our chambers has an equality & diversity policy and action plan in place, which are subject to regular internal review and which are overseen by the Bar Standards Board.
Any questions or comments about our policy or any complaint that concerns equality & diversity issues should be sent in the first instance to our Equality & Diversity and Diversity Data Officer, Laura Searle (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All chambers are required to have systems in place to monitor the effectiveness of their equality & diversity policy and action plan. One of these is the collection of diversity data from the chambers’ workforce. The Bar Standards Board requires chambers to collect and publish such data every three years.
Walnut House invited its workforce to provide their diversity data in September 2020 (and prior to that in September 2017) and the results can be accessed by clicking on this link.
Transparency for all
Whilst the details of our standard terms of work can be found below, we are aware that visitors to our Chambers may not always have an in depth knowledge of the legal system so we aim to be as clear as possible surrounding other elements that may be appropriate to your dealings with our Chambers.
If at anytime you are unsure about the information provided on our website or as a result of direct correspondence we have with you, we encourage you to ask, and ask again if necessary. Your enquiry will always be taken seriously and we will aim to explain things as clearly as possible until you feel comfortable that your question has been answered.
Our clerks are responsible for the administration of our Chambers and have the knowledge and expertise to guide you with your enquiry so please use the details on this page to make contact with us in the way in which you feel most at ease.
The information in this section is tailored to provide a summary of:-
- what services we may be able to offer, in what courts and how quickly you may expect to receive these services
- what costs may be applied to the services we can provide and how that cost is determined
- what you are able to do if are unhappy with the service you have been provided and how we can try to find a remedy
It should be noted that whilst the cost and level of service you receive should not be affected by problems associated with Covid-19, there may of course be some effect on the timeframes of work as a result of delays within the court system and with other parties being able to consider correspondence as efficiently as they may have previously done (with or without good reason). Whilst most of these issues may be out of our control, we will do what we can to minimise any delay on our part. Where we have had to adapt our own working practice there could be an affect to the normal time in which we would like to respond, but we will do what we can to keep this to a minimum.
Standards & Terms of Work
The primary aim of the members and staff of Walnut house is to provide efficient and effective advisory and advocacy services to all our clients across all aspects of civil, criminal and family law.
Our Business Standards
The standard Chambers turnaround for all paperwork is 28 days from the date instructions are received. Urgent instructions can be considered within a timescale agreed with the instructing solicitor. If counsel is unlikely to meet a deadline the instructing solicitor will be contacted immediately so that the situation may be discussed.
Our clerks will give an estimate of fees on request and will ensure that any developments in a case that might affect a fee structure are discussed promptly with the instructing solicitor. Arrangements can be made for counsel to attend a client at a venue away from Chambers if it is felt appropriate.
We aim to keep returns to a minimum and to communicate foreseeable difficulties with counsel’s availability at the earliest opportunity. If we have to return a case we will offer the client the broadest range of alternative options possible. For the avoidance of doubt, Counsel will be deemed to have formally accepted the brief only once the instructions/brief has been received and considered and not on the basis of a booking in their diary alone.
Chambers will always be considerate to the requirements of a client with special needs. Chambers aims to provide all clients with an efficient, competent and courteous service. Although our provision of services is frequently monitored and analysed we welcome any comments on the quality of administration, the standard of the conduct of a case and the quality of our client care (any comments should be directed to the Practice Director, Bernard Hayward).
We aim to provide an invoice or fee note in good time of the work being carried out. We request that payment is made promptly and by default within 30 days of receipt. Further details can be obtained from the official ‘Terms of Work’ – see below.
Terms of Work
With effect from 31st January 2013 the contractual terms upon which Walnut House Barristers undertake work are set out in the (new) Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012. A copy of the Standard Terms can be found here and reference to them will be included in the acknowledgement letter on receipt of briefs and instructions. Please speak to Bernard Hayward if you have a query over the new contract terms or if you feel they are not appropriate for your particular case. We may then be able to arrange for alternative terms to be put in place before the Barrister commences work.
Which applies when a booking is made in Counsel’s diary whether or not the brief has actually been delivered. We understand that in some cases it is not uncommon for matters to settle at the last minute, negating the need for a hearing. Wherever possible, we will seek to minimise Counsels loss in such circumstances by securing alternative instructions. If Counsel is able to undertake an alternative hearing at the same or higher rate, no cancellation fee will ordinarily be payable. However, there will be occasions where this is not always possible due to the lateness of any cancellation or adjournment, and in such instances the following cancellation fees shall apply:
Trials (Fast Track) / Final or Contested Hearings
Where claims are settled between the parties prior to the date of hearing without the assistance of Counsel: 24 hours prior to hearing – 100% of brief fee shall be payable, 25-72 hours prior to hearing – 50% of brief fee shall be payable, 72 hours to 3 days prior to hearing 25% of brief fee shall be payable – thereafter no cancellation fee shall be payable.
Trial (Multi Track) / Final or Contested Hearings
Where claims are settled between the parties prior to the date of hearing without the assistance of Counsel: Within 7 days of the hearing – 100% of brief fee shall be payable, 21-7 days prior to hearing – 50% brief fee shall be payable and more than 21 days prior to hearing – no cancellation fee shall be payable. Where cases are settled with the assistance/intervention of Counsel following receipt of the papers the above figures shall be applicable save in exceptional circumstances where an hourly rate will be applied for the time spent by Counsel in considering the papers and/or in preparing any advice for those instructing which forms the basis of settlement between the parties. This will most usually occur in Multi-Track, high value and/or complex cases.
Walnut House recognises that all businesses have a responsibility to minimise any adverse environmental impact and our objective is to monitor the environmental impact of our business and to set ourselves goals to reduce any adverse effects of our activities.
To help us achieve this aim we are a member of the Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) which is a non-profit making organisation and registered charity whose mission is to inform, support and motivate businesses, of all sizes and from all sectors in Devon, to adopt environmentally sound and profitable business policies and achieve best environmental practice.
- We are working towards reducing our production of waste through the promotion of recycling. We endeavour to ensure that all of our confidential waste paper is recycled and we encourage all members of chambers to recycle all recyclable waste products.
- We ask all members of chambers to car-share whenever possible to reduce the production of harmful emissions. Members of chambers are encouraged to use public transport wherever possible.
- We encourage all members of chambers to switch off all electrical devices, including computers, when they are not in use.
- We endeavour to use ecological cleaning products and to purchase ethically sourced goods where available.
- All obsolete IT equipment will be disposed of m line with the required environmental legislation.
- We will comply, as a minimum requirement, with all relevant legislation, regulations and other relevant requirements.
- To minimise the amount of waste produced by way of reduction, reuse and recycling by:
– Reducing our non-recyclable waste;
– Increasing our use of recycled paper with at least a 30% post-consumer recycled content;
– Recycling our plastic, glass, cans and toner cartridges;
- To promote environmentally sensitive behaviour throughout all areas of our business.
- To conserve energy resources wherever possible by:
– Improving our energy efficiency and reducing our energy consumption;
– Increasing our use of public transport;
- To regularly review our environmental performance so that we can identify areas where we have been successful and areas for improvement.
- To work with key suppliers to manage and reduce the environmental impacts of our purchases.
This policy will be reviewed at either Chambers Annual General Meeting or by Chambers Management Committee as and when appropriate.