Barristers going into competition with solicitors to offer litigation services could reduce costs and make services “more efficient for consumers through packaged delivery”, the voice of legal consumers has said. The Legal Services Consumer Panel also backed the Bar Standards Board as the sole regulator of advocacy services.
The Legal Ombudsman service has issued its first formal decision, it has emerged. The first case to go all the way through to a final decision by an ombudsman concerned a complaint over delay and whether the costs were explained clearly.
Lawyers have warned the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) that some clients will end up unrepresented if he adopts a complaints process that involves ‘naming and shaming’. Fear of reputational damage would have a chilling effect on taking on clients perceived to be ‘risky’ and adversely impact on lawyers whose social conscience led them to offer help, they said.
The impending legal aid cuts make it a greater priority than ever to ensure poorer people complain if legal services deteriorate, the Legal Ombudsman has declared in the wake of a government decision to scrap a duty on public authorities to reduce inequality caused by socio-economic factors.
This is a blog I didn’t expect to write. We all know the independence of the legal profession from government is robust, right? In the summer I was speaking to Carolyn Lamm, the then president of the American Bar Association, about alternative business structures. When I asked if we had covered all of her concerns, she surprised me by raising the independence issue.
The independence of the legal profession from government is under threat from Whitehall, Legal Services Consumer Panel chairwoman Dr Dianne Hayter warned on Saturday. Speaking at the Bar Council annual conference, Dr Hayter revealed that the Legal Services Board (LSB), Legal Ombudsman and consumer panel have all been told to close their websites, while she highlighted the threat from legislation that will allow government to abolish or amend the terms of the LSB.
The Legal Ombudsman service needs to work out the limits of its jurisdiction “and quickly”, as new business models emerge, chief ombudsman Adam Sampson has said. Mr Sampson said that with the pace of legal services reform accelerating and the legal services market “rapidly moving away from a reliance on the high street solicitor” and towards new providers entering the market “with very different business models”, it is very important to consumers that LeO is clear about what is and is not within its jurisdiction.
Solicitors are set to shoulder the vast majority of the Legal Services Board (LSB) and Legal Ombudsman’s (LeO) £25m annual running costs for the next three years at least, it emerged today. The LSB confirmed that it would proceed with its plan to levy its own £5m costs on the basis of the number of authorised persons overseen by each approved regulator, and most of LeO’s £20m costs based on the number of complaints generated by each group.
Confusion in the rules around complaints means law firms are having to “err on the side of annoyance” by referring commercial clients to the Legal Ombudsman even though it does not have jurisdiction to deal with them, it has been claimed.
The Legal Ombudsman has added his voice to concerns at plans to merge the Legal Services Consumer Panel into Citizens Advice. He said that whatever happens, he will still “need someone I can talk to who I believe truly represents consumer interests… Unfortunately, for all its virtues, Citizens Advice cannot do that.”