Quarterly Complaints Bulletin
April – June 2011

Introduction

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of complaints recorded across the Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) during the quarter April - June 2011.  For comparison purposes, data from the previous 12 months is also provided.  The NICTS has assumed administrative responsibility for a number of NI departmental tribunals, these tribunals have been identified with an asterisks in Table 1.  This report includes complaints for those tribunals, whereas reports prior to April 2010 did not.

Summary

A total of 41 complaints were recorded, however 4 relating to judicial decisions [the Courts and Tribunals Service cannot deal with complaints against judicial decisions] and 1 relating to another organisation falls outside the scope of this report.

The graph below illustrates that 36 complaints were received during this quarter. The number of complaints received shows an increase (16%) when compared with the quarter ending March 2011 [31] and has decreased by 55% when compared with the same quarter last year [80].

Total Complaints Received

Period Total Number of Complaints
Apr - Jun 10 80
July - Sept 10 45
Oct - Dec 10 31
Jan - Mar 11 31
Apr - Jun 11 36

Following investigation 18 complaints (50%) were upheld.

Breakdown by venue

A breakdown of the complaints recorded by venue is illustrated in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Breakdown of complaints received by venue
Location Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11
Antrim 0 1 0 0 0
Armagh 0 1 0 0 0
Ballymena 0 0 0 0 0
Bangor 0 0 0 1 0
Care Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 0
Central Complaints 5 4 2 5 5
Civil Processing Centre 0 0 0 3 3
Coleraine 1 0 3 3 0
Communications Group 0 0 2 0 2
Coroners Service 3 0 1 2 3
Court Funds Office 3 1 1 0 0
Craigavon 2 0 2 0 0
CICAP* 1 0 0 0 0
Customer Services Centre 23 11 1 0 2
Downpatrick 2 2 0 0 4
Dungannon 1 1 1 0 1
Enforcement of Judgments Office 8 4 3 5 3
Enniskillen 1 0 0 1 0
Human Resource Unit 1 0 0 0 0
Laganside Courts 8 5 5 3 3
Lands Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 1
Larne 0 0 0 0 0
Limavady 0 0 1 1 0
Lisburn 0 1 0 0 1
Londonderry 1 4 1 1 0
Magherafelt 1 1 0 0 0
Mental Health Review Tribunal* 0 1 0 0 0
Newry 1 2 0 0 0
Newtownards 4 3 2 2 0
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 1
Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 0
OSSC* 0 0 0 0 0
Omagh 2 0 2 0 0
Pensions Appeal Commissioners* 0 0 0 0 0
Pensions Appeal Tribunals* 1 0 0 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 11 2 3 4 6
SENDIST* 0 1 1 0 0
Strabane 0 0 0 0 1
Total number of complaints 80 45 31 31 36

* denotes a NI departmental tribunal for which NICTS has assumed administrative responsibility.

Complaints received centrally through Communications Group, where possible, have now been broken down and allocated to the relevant office or courthouse.

Most complaints related to the following venues:

Royal Courts of Justice 6 (17%)
Central Complaints 5 (14%)
Downpatrick 4 (11%)
Civil Processing Centre 3 (8%)
Coroners Service 3 (8%)
Enforcement of Judgments Office 3 (8%)
Laganside Courts 3 (8%)

Breakdown by Category of Complaint

A breakdown of complaints received by category over the last 12 months is illustrated in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Breakdown of complaints by category
  Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11
Accommodation 7 6 2 6 0
Administration Error 4 4 6 1 3
Catering 3 0 1 0 0
Court Service Staff 3 3 3 5 5
Delays 11 4 6 6 7
Driving Licence 11 4 1 0 0
Fees 1 0 0 1 1
ICOS 0 0 0 0 0
Information Available 0 1 1 2 4
Jury Expenses 7 0 0 0 1
Jury Service 4 3 0 0 3
Juryline 1 0 0 0 0
Online Services 2 3 1 3 2
Post Mortem 2 0 0 0 0
Resource Staff 3 0 0 0 0
Summons Servers 1 2 2 1 0
Telephone Manner 0 1 0 0 0
TV Licensing 2 0 0 0 0
Website 0 2 2 0 1
Other 18 12 6 6 9
Total 80 45 31 31 36

The following 4 categories account for the majority [69%] of complaints recorded.

Delays 7
Court Service Staff 5
Information Available 4
Other 9

A breakdown of the 4 main categories recorded by venue is illustrated in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Breakdown of main categories of complaints received
Business Area Category of Complaint
Information Available Delays Court Service Staff Other
Central Complaints 0 0 0 3
Civil Processing Centre 0 1 1 1
Communications Group 2 0 0 0
Coroners Service 0 1 0 1
Customer Services Centre 0 0 0 1
Downpatrick 0 0 0 1
Enforcement of Judgments Office 0 1 1 1
Laganside Courts 1 0 1 1
Lisburn 0 0 1 0
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal 1 0 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 0 4 1 0
Total 4 7 5 9

The nature of the complaints included in the ‘Other’ category are as follows:

Complaints Upheld

Of the 36 complaints received a total of 18 (50%) were upheld.  The NICTS were not found to be at fault for the remaining 18 complaints.

The main categories of upheld complaints related to:

Delays 5
Administration Error 3
Court Service Staff 3
Information Available 3

Follow Up Action

The follow up action taken in respect of complaints upheld has been categorised into the three areas below:

Apology/explanation given 4
Remedial action/procedures revised 13
Financial compensation for financial loss, inconvenience or distress 1

As a result of the complaints received, these are the actions we have taken:

Follow Up Questionnaires

The NICTS issues a follow up questionnaire to find out how satisfied our customers are with the way in which their complaint was handled.

During this quarter no follow up questionnaires were returned.

How Complaints are Received

During this quarter, registering a complaint by letter (42%) was the most popular method used by customers, followed by email (28%).

Table 4: Breakdown of how complaints were received
  Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11
Comment Card 0 1 1 0 2
Complaints Form 2 1 3 4 4
Email 14 9 7 9 10
Fax 0 0 0 0 0
In Person 12 3 3 3 0
Letter 25 15 11 13 15
Telephone 27 16 6 2 5
Total 80 45 31 31 36

Response Time

During this quarter 23 (64%) complaints were answered within the 15 working day turnaround.

Communications Group
September 2011


Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service
Laganside House
23-27 Oxford Street
Belfast
BT1 3LA
www.courtsni.gov.uk