Ombudsman highlights risk of rising complaints following Jackson reforms

Print This Post

By Legal Futures

22 February 2011

Personal injury: costs are not a major source of complaint

Implemen-tation of the Jackson reforms could have an impact on the number of complaints against solicitors, the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has told the government.

Responding to the Ministry of Justice consultation on civil justice costs, LeO said ending recoverability could cause consumers “to take more of an interest in their lawyers’ fees [and] it could be worth considering the effect this might have on consumer complaints”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the current regime, LeO’s data so far shows that far fewer people have complained about costs information in personal injury claims than in other areas of law.

In a carefully neutral response, LeO said the proposed reform of the costs regime “could mean consumers are more likely to believe their lawyer’s fees are too high or consider that their lawyer did not adequately explain the fee structure to them before starting their case.

“Alternatively, it could lead to consumers asking more questions about the system prior to instructing their lawyer and so have a better understanding of their situation, and be more satisfied with the service provided by their lawyer.”

LeO said the proposals might also have an impact on the types and sizes of provider offering personal injury services. “It is possible that certain types of provider may deliver higher service levels than others, and we hope to be able to share information with you on this in the future.”

Data from the first four months of LeO shows that 8% of complaints it investigated related to personal injury and 9% to litigation. Taken together they are one of the top three areas complained about by consumers, along with family law and residential conveyancing. The most common complaint in personal injury cases is that the lawyer caused a delay.

In response to a separate Ministry of Justice consultation on claims management companies (CMCs) offering up-front incentives for people to claim, LeO said there needs to be a more joined-up approach between its work and that of the claims management regulator as “we think consumers are confused about the roles of CMCs versus law firms, and particularly where they should go for redress should they experience poor service”.

Personal injury complaints LeO has investigated to date that involve CMCs include CMCs passing on insufficient information about claims to solicitors’ firms, causing a delay in taking forward cases; CMCs passing on personal details to law firms without permission; and consumers concerned at being contacted many times by solicitors following referrals from CMCs.

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Ombudsman highlights risk of rising complaints following Jackson reforms”

  1. Recoverable fees, recoverable only against part of the damages, after some cost shifting to the opponent, operates at a level of complexity which will baffle most clients. They won’t generally ask more questions, they will simply assume that all lawyers charge in the same way. Some who feel caught out may complain but most will simply put up with however the lawyer charges them. Lack of simplicity in the system will also inhibit competition – meaning LJ Jackson’s hope that consumers will exert downward pressure on fees and insurance premiums may be a folorn one.

  2. Richard Moorhead on February 22nd, 2011 at 9:42 am

Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

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

Legal Futures Blog

The rise of the multi-disciplinary lawyer: A challenge for legal education

Catrina Denvir

The legal profession has been on the receiving end of much hype regarding the impact of technology. Recent commentators purport that the aspiring lawyer must be a triple threat, possessing knowledge of the law, coding expertise, and in-depth knowledge of legal technology. Yet, focusing on legal technology risks overlooking the need for skills that transcend latest fads. Legal technology is a means by which to handle data: to organise it, record it, extract it, analyse it, predict from it and leverage it. Quantitative and statistical literacy – the ability to understand, apply, visualise and infer from data – underpins technological literacy and yet receives very little attention from those who encourage innovation in the legal curriculum.

May 26th, 2017