There needs to be a “root and branch” review of the complaints process run by the Legal Ombudsman, with the speed with which complaints are resolved a particular concern, according to the prospective chair of the organisation’s governing body.
The Legal Ombudsman has investigated almost 5,000 complaints about claims management companies in the two years since its jurisdiction was expanded to cover them. But it has been warned to expect a major influx of more complaints if the government’s personal injury reforms come to pass.
Two barristers from the same chambers have between them accounted for more than one in ten of the four hundred plus new complaints made against their branch of the profession in 2015/16. The revelation came amid a crisis of public confidence in the fairness of the BSB’s complaints process.
The Legal Ombudsman has set out plans for further cuts in the amount it spends on complaints about law firms, but more on claims management companies. LeO also warned that the Ministry of Justice was imposing “increasingly restrictive spending controls”.
There is evidence that the quality of legal advice is “too often sub-standard”, meaning the safety net for consumers needs to be enhanced, the Legal Services Consumer Panel said today as it launched its work programme for the next year.
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.