‘Named and shamed’ barrister Tariq Rehman has come top of the latest table of complaints about lawyers published by the Legal Ombudsman. He was subject to more complaints than the combined total recorded for the country’s two largest consumer law firms, Irwin Mitchell and Slater & Gordon.
The number of complaints to the Legal Ombudsman about claims management companies is gathering pace and passed 15,000 in the first nine months of 2015, it has emerged. LeO said almost half of the complaints were about fees.
The Office for Legal Complaints is to put in place a new performance plan for the Legal Ombudsman next year to tackle falling standards, it has emerged. Steve Green, chair of the OLC, promised things would be on an “upward trajectory” next year.
In a further twist to an already complicated saga, the Legal Ombudsman has decided not to become a certified alternative dispute resolution body for the time being. Certification would double LeO’s deadline for complaints from six to 12 months.
Kathryn Stone, a police complaints commissioner, is to become chief ombudsman at the Legal Ombudsman in January next year. The appointment comes at a time when new figures put LeO under further pressure from the Legal Services Board over deteriorating performance against its targets.
The number of complaints about claims management companies received by the Legal Ombudsman in the first six months of this year has hit almost 9,000 – a far higher amount than expected. However the number actually investigated was lower than predicted.
Confusion over law firm complaints and the new European directive on alternative dispute resolution is set to continue, the chair of the legal services consumer panel has predicted. Elisabeth Davies said the panel was taken by surprise by the Legal Ombudsman’s change of heart on the issue.
The European directive on alternative dispute resolution will not only extend the period for making complaints about lawyers from six to twelve months, but reduce the grounds for the Legal Ombudsman to reject them from 14 to four, it has emerged.
The Legal Ombudsman has apologised to solicitors for any inconvenience caused after it abandoned plans to become a certified alternative dispute resolution body without a full consultation. LeO said it would “decide how to proceed” in December.
A “typical” legal service user loves Strictly Come Dancing, prefers Coronation Street to EastEnders, regularly browses Facebook and follows Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross on Twitter. They are also married, in their later years of life, and financially stable – all according to the Legal Ombudsman.