Quarterly Complaints Bulletin
October – December 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 October - December 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 34 complaints were recorded, however 3 relating to judicial decisions [the Courts and Tribunals Service cannot deal with complaints against judicial decisions] and 1 relating to another organisation fall outside the scope of this report. A total of 118 complaints were also received in relation to a case concerning a dangerous dog, however, NICTS was unable to deal with these complaints as they related to specific evidence in the case and the judicial process.

The graph below illustrates that 30 complaints were received during this quarter. The number of complaints received shows a decrease (3.2%) when compared with the quarter ending September 2011 [31] and has decreased by 3.2% when compared with the same quarter last year [31].

Total Complaints Received

line graph showing the total number ofcompliants received during the reporting period and the previous four quarters
Period Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11 Jul-Sep 11 Oct-Dec 11
Total number of complaints 31 31 36 31 30

Following investigation 10 complaints (33.3%) 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 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11 Jul-Sep 11 Oct-Dec 11
Antrim 0 0 0 0 1
Armagh 0 0 0 0 0
Ballymena 0 0 0 0 0
Bangor 0 1 0 0 0
Care Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 0
Central Complaints 2 5 5 0 1
Civil Processing Centre 0 3 3 3 1
Coleraine 3 3 0 0 0
Communications Group 2 0 2 0 0
Coroners Service 1 2 3 1 4
Court Funds Office 1 0 0 0 2
Craigavon 2 0 0 1 1
CICAP* 0 0 0 2 0
Customer Services Centre 1 0 2 1 0
Downpatrick 0 0 4 2 1
Dungannon 1 0 1 0 0
Enforcement of Judgments Office 3 5 3 7 3
Enniskillen 0 1 0 0 1
Human Resource Unit 0 0 0 0 0
Laganside Courts 5 3 3 6 2
Lands Tribunal* 0 0 1 0 0
Larne 0 0 0 0 0
Limavady 1 1 0 0 0
Lisburn 0 0 1 1 2
Londonderry 1 1 0 1 1
Magherafelt 0 0 0 0 0
Mental Health Review Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 0
Newry 0 0 0 0 2
Newtownards 2 2 0 1 3
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal* 0 0 1 1 1
Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal* 0 0 0 0 0
OSSC* 0 0 0 0 0
Omagh 2 0 0 0 0
Pensions Appeal Commissioners* 0 0 0 0 0
Pensions Appeal Tribunals* 0 0 0 0 1
Royal Courts of Justice 3 4 6 4 3
SENDIST* 1 0 0 0 0
Strabane 0 0 1 0 0
Total number of complaints 31 31 36 31 30

* 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:

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
  Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11 Jul-Sep 11 Oct-Dec 11
Accommodation 2 6 0 3 1
Administration Error 6 1 3 5 8
Catering 1 0 0 0 0
Court Service Staff 3 5 5 2 2
Delays 6 6 7 11 7
Driving Licence 1 0 0 1 2
Fees 0 1 1 0 0
ICOS 0 0 0 0 0
Information Available 1 2 4 1 2
Jury Expenses 0 0 1 0 1
Jury Service 0 0 3 0 0
Juryline 0 0 0 0 0
Online Services 1 3 2 0 0
Post Mortem 0 0 0 0 0
Resource Staff 0 0 0 0 0
Summons Servers 2 1 0 0 1
Telephone Manner 0 0 0 0 0
TV Licensing 0 0 0 0 0
Website 2 0 1 1 0
Other 6 6 9 7 6
Total 31 31 36 31 30

The following 3 categories account for the majority [70%] of complaints recorded.

A breakdown of the 3 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
Administration Error Delays Other
Antrim 0 0 1
Civil Processing Centre 0 1 0
Coroners Service 0 1 3
Court Funds Office 2 0 0
Enforcement of Judgments Office 1 1 0
Laganside Courts 0 1 0
Lisburn 0 1 1
Londonderry 1 0 0
Newry 1 0 0
Newtownards 0 1 0
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal 0 0 1
Pensions Appeal Tribunals 1 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 2 1 0
Total 8 7 6

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

Complaints Upheld

Of the 30 complaints received a total of 10 (33%) were upheld.  The NICTS were not found to be at fault for the remaining 20 complaints.

The main categories of upheld complaints related to:

Follow Up Action

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

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 (40%) was the most popular method used by customers, followed by email (33%).

Table 4: Breakdown of how complaints were received
  Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11 Apr-Jun 11 Jul-Sep 11 Oct-Dec 11
Comment Card 1 0 2 0 2
Complaints Form 3 4 4 3 1
Email 7 9 10 7 10
Fax 0 0 0 0 0
In Person 3 3 0 1 1
Letter 11 13 15 16 12
Telephone 6 2 5 4 4
Total 31 31 36 31 30

Response Time

During this quarter 27 (90%) complaints were answered within the 15 working day turnaround.

Communications Group
February 2012


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