Quarterly Complaints Bulletin
January - March 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 January - March 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 36 complaints were recorded, however 2 relating to judicial decisions [the Courts and Tribunals Service cannot deal with complaints against judicial decisions] and 3 relating to other organisations fall outside the scope of this report.

The graph below illustrates that 31 complaints were received during this quarter. The number of complaints received shows no change when compared with the quarter ending December 2010 [31] and has decreased by 34% when compared with the same quarter last year [47].

Total Complaints Received

Quarter Total Number of Complaints
Jan - Mar 10 47
Apr - Jun 10 80
July - Sept 10 45
Oct - Dec 10 31
Jan - Mar 11 31

Following investigation 11 complaints (35%) were upheld.

Breakdown by venue

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

Location Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11
Antrim 0 0 1 0 0
Armagh 0 0 1 0 0
Ballymena 0 0 0 0 0
Bangor 1 0 0 0 1
Care Tribunal*   0 0 0 0
Central Complaints 11 5 4 2 5
Civil Processing Centre 1 0 0 0 3
Coleraine 1 1 0 3 3
Communications Group 0 0 0 2 0
Coroners Service 2 3 0 1 2
Court Funds Office 1 3 1 1 0
Craigavon 1 2 0 2 0
CICAP*   1 0 0 0
Customer Services Centre 3 23 11 1 0
Downpatrick 4 2 2 0 0
Dungannon 2 1 1 1 0
Enforcement of Judgments Office 5 8 4 3 5
Enniskillen 1 1 0 0 1
Human Resource Unit 0 1 0 0 0
Laganside Courts 3 8 5 5 3
Lands Tribunal*   0 0 0 0
Larne 0 0 0 0 0
Limavady 0 0 0 1 1
Lisburn 0 0 1 0 0
Londonderry 2 1 4 1 1
Magherafelt 0 1 1 0 0
Mental Health Review Tribunal*   0 1 0 0
Newry 0 1 2 0 0
Newtownards 5 4 3 2 2
Northern Ireland Traffic Penalty Tribunal*   0 0 0 0
Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal*   0 0 0 0
OSSC*   0 0 0 0
Omagh 1 2 0 2 0
Pensions Appeal Commissioners*   0 0 0 0
Pensions Appeal Tribunals*   1 0 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 3 11 2 3 4
SENDIST*   0 1 1 0
Strabane 0 0 0 0 0
Total number of complaints 47 80 45 31 31

* 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:

Central Complaints 5 (16%)
Enforcement of Judgments Office 5 (16%)
Royal Courts of Justice 4 (13%)
Civil Processing Centre 3 (10%)
Coleraine 3 (10%)
Laganside Courts 3 (10%)

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

  Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11
Accommodation 10 7 6 2 6
Administration Error 5 4 4 6 1
Catering 3 3 0 1 0
Court Service Staff 6 3 3 3 5
Delays 6 11 4 6 6
Driving Licence 0 11 4 1 0
Fees 0 1 0 0 1
ICOS 0 0 0 0 0
Information Available 3 0 1 1 2
Jury Expenses 0 7 0 0 0
Jury Service 1 4 3 0 0
Juryline 0 1 0 0 0
Online Services 0 2 3 1 3
Post Mortem 0 2 0 0 0
Resource Staff 0 3 0 0 0
Summons Servers 0 1 2 2 1
Telephone Manner 0 0 1 0 0
TV Licensing 0 2 0 0 0
Website 0 0 2 2 0
Other 13 18 12 6 6
Total 47 80 45 31 31

The following 4 categories account for the majority [74%] of complaints recorded.

Accommodation 6
Court Service Staff  6
Delays 6
Administrative Error 5
Other 6

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

Table 3: Breakdown of main categories of complaints received

Business Area Category of Complaint
Accommodation Delays Court Service Staff Other
Bangor 0 0 1 0
Central Complaints 0 0 1 1
Civil Processing Centre 0 0 1 1
Coleraine 3 0 0 0
Coroners Service 0 0 0 2
Enforcement of Judgments Office 0 4 0 1
Enniskillen 1 0 0 0
Laganside Courts 1 0 1 0
Limavady 1 0 0 0
Londonderry 0 0 0 1
Newtownards 0 1 0 0
Royal Courts of Justice 0 1 1 0
Total 6 6 5 6

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

Complaints Upheld

Of the 31 complaints received a total of 11 (35%) were upheld.  The NICTS were not found to be at fault for the remaining 20 complaints.

The main categories of upheld complaints related to:

Accommodation 3
Delays 3
Online Services 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 3
Remedial action/procedures revised 8
Financial compensation for financial loss, inconvenience or distress 0

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 one follow up questionnaire was returned expressing satisfaction with the way the complaint was handled.

How Complaints are Received

During this quarter, registering a complaint by letter (42%) was the most popular method used by customers, followed by email (29%).

  Jan-Mar 10 Apr-Jun 10 Jul-Sep 10 Oct-Dec 10 Jan-Mar 11
Comment Card 5 0 1 1 0
Complaints Form 4 2 1 3 4
Email 9 14 9 7 9
Fax 2 0 0 0 0
In Person 2 12 3 3 3
Letter 20 25 15 11 13
Telephone 5 27 16 6 2
Total 47 80 45 31 31

Response Time

During this quarter 29 (94%) complaints were answered within the 15 working day turnaround.

Communications Group
May 2011