Out of the shadows – part 2

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10 August 2010

Posted by Neil Rose, Editor, Legal Futures

Sampson: the OLC's frontman - but who else runs the show?

Having recently taken a look at who is running the Legal Services Board (see blog here), this week it is the turn of the board of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), which will oversee the Legal Ombudsman service. You will see there are at least two law firms in the land that will have no excuses if they fall foul of the new complaints regime because they have direct links with members of the board.

Again the OLC’s members are not at all known – chief executive Adam Sampson is very much the public face of the organisation. I have been sent the register of members’ interests, but as yet their expenses have not been provided. This should be done shortly and I will report back when they are.

Board chairwoman Elizabeth France certainly knows a thing or two about ombudsman schemes. She is a former civil servant who in 1994 was appointed data protection registrar, a role that became the information commissioner in 2001. She was awarded a CBE for her services to data protection. From 2002-9 she was chief ombudsman and chief executive of the Ombudsman Service Ltd, which provides the telecommunications, energy and surveyors’ ombudsman services. She is also a non-executive director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Rosemary Carter is a well-known family law solicitor – former president of Resolution and member of the Law Society Council. As such I had many dealings with her in the past and can attest that she is both sharp and very pleasant. She is currently a self-employed consultant to Kerseys Solicitors in Ipswich and is also a trained mediator. Ms Carter is a non-executive director of the Child Maintenance & Enforcement Commission, a member of the RICS Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme board and a member of the General Dental Council.

Margaret Doyle is an independent mediator and ADR consultant. She mediates in cases involving special educational needs and disability discrimination. She has carried out research and consultancy projects on ADR and access to justice for, among others, the Public Law Project, Advice Services Alliance and National Consumer Council, and is currently a consultant researcher with the Public Law Project on a Nuffield-funded empirical study of mediation and judicial review. She is also a non-executive director of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

Tony Foster is previously a director of ICI Chemicals & Polymers Ltd and chief executive of ICI Chlorchemicals Business, and a former member of both the Criminal Cases Review Commission and council of the Competition Commission. Among his current roles, he is, interestingly, a member of the financial protection committee of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This committee oversees the profession’s indemnity and compensation fund arrangements, and as such there is a potential crossover with the work of the OLC when it comes to whether insurance should cover complaints awards and costs. This has been an issue lately, as reported last week (see story here). He is also a member of the disciplinary committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. His son is a trainee solicitor.

Mary Seneviratne is professor of law and director of research at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University. A qualified solicitor, most of her working life has been in academia. She has researched and published widely in relation to ombudsmen, complaints procedures, civil and administrative justice, ADR, and governance of the professions. Among various roles, she is a member of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association and the Administriative Justice and Tribunals Council.

The register of interests records that her husband is a solicitor working at the Crown Prosecution Service who is a member of the rules and ethics committee of the Law Society’s regulatory affairs board.

Brian Woods-Scawen is a strategic adviser to Birmingham law firm Martineau. An accountant by training, he was chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ supervisory board and a member of its global board. He also started PwC’s long-running annual survey of financial management in law firms.

He hold non-executive roles at a number of private and public sector organisations, including chairman of West Bromwich Building Society, a non-executive board member of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Mr Woods-Scawen’s daughter is a solicitor and brother-in-law a legal executive.

David Thomas is a solicitor who was previously the banking ombudsman. Since 2005 he has been corporate director and principal ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman Service responsible for corporate policy.

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