Legal Ombudsman to reject file-sharing complaints but send cases to SRA

Print This Post

By Legal Futures

14 October 2010


Sampson: saying no is a core ombudsman skill

The new Legal Ombudsman (LeO) service is set to turn away the rash of complaints about the way certain law firms have been pursuing alleged filesharers, it has emerged.

However, it is instead referring them on to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

A number of complaints about the activities of some firms were among the first received by the service when it opened on 6 October amid a flurry of publicity and organised action by Internet users against firms. Filesharing involves exchanging copyrighted files of music or films. 

They claim that the tactics being used by these firms are abusive, potentially illegal and poorly targeted, catching the innocent along with the guilty.

However, chief ombudsman Adam Sampson has said that while this is “precisely the sort of potential injustice… which we were set up to investigate”, LeO’s rules prevent it from acting.

He explained: “The legislation which underpins the scheme is clear: we are here to look at the service people receive from their own lawyer, not from someone else’s. You can complain to us if you are unhappy with your divorce lawyer, for example, but not that of your estranged partner. No matter how serious the allegations, they are not ours to investigate.”

He continued: “Saying no is a core ombudsman skill. Key is, wherever possible, to suggest some positive action which can be taken. In this case, that action lies with the regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority… Saying that we are referring the issues to the SRA and asking to be kept updated about the progress of their investigation may not be the answer the complainants wanted. But it is the best we can do.”

Mr Sampson said he wanted LeO to establish “an early reputation for being helpful”, continuing: “When you are a new service entering into an arena where customer hopes are high, it is all too easy to disappoint. The last thing you need is to go out with an early, high-profile decision which betrays those hopes.”

In August the SRA referred Andrew Crossley of ACS:Law to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over the conduct of file-sharing litigation (see story).

Tags: , ,



One Response to “Legal Ombudsman to reject file-sharing complaints but send cases to SRA”

  1. The link story is interesting. It suggests the SRA/SDT take way too long to deal with these kinds of complaint.

  2. Richard Moorhead on October 14th, 2010 at 9:11 am

Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

Do not fear robot lawyers – fear robot clients

Pulat Yunusov

Tech is famous for its shorter and shorter hype cycles. Robot lawyers were all over the twitters only a few months ago and now people actually yell at you for even mentioning the thing. Of course, robot lawyers should not even have surfaced in the first place because no one is remotely close to building them. Lawyers should not fear for their livelihoods. But there is something that is much more important than robot lawyers. It’s robot clients. Or at least the proliferation of machines, automated transactions, and standardized processes where lawyers once controlled the terrain.

September 20th, 2016