The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has exercised its “public interest” power under the Legal Services Act to name a claims management company (CMC) responsible for a series of complaints.
It is only the second time that the LeO’s board – the Office for Legal Complaints – has used the power. The first time was in 2014 in relation to barrister Tariq Rehman.
Swansea-based JAS Financial Advisory Services Limited – trading as Litchfield Price, Hampton Rae and NLC Solutions – generated 92 complaints in the first six months of 2016.
According to the CMC register, the company is also being investigated by the Claims Management Regulator on suspicion of unprofessional conduct.
In a statement, the LeO said: “We have been advised by a number of complainants that, in the initial sales call, JAS told them that their claims would be resolved quickly, and that the upfront fee was refundable in the event that all claims were ultimately unsuccessful.
“We are concerned that, by failing to adequately progress claims, JAS are delaying payment of fees where a refund may be due. As the majority of their customers pay their fees by credit card, and are expecting a swift resolution, they are being disadvantaged by additional credit card interest charges due to their claims taking longer than can be reasonably expected.”
The LeO said JAS repeatedly took upfront fees, but failed to adequately progress claims; and was failing to keep customers updated as to the progress of their claims.
“Furthermore, we have seen a pattern of behaviour which shows that JAS are failing to respond to consumers’ complaints within an eight-week period. Additionally, they are failing to comply with all of our requests for information. JAS appear to have a very inconsistent approach to co-operating with the Legal Ombudsman; in some instances providing comments to preliminary decisions and in others providing no evidence at all.”
It gave a detailed example of one case where JAS “essentially abandoned” a customer’s claim for mis-sold payment protection insurance after she paid an upfront fee of £495.
Earlier this week, the High Court issued a two-year civil restraint order to stem Mr Rehman’s challenges to disciplinary and LeO decisions.
We have received several requests for help from people who have had dealings with JAS. Please contact the Legal Ombudsman at first instance for advice – click here for its website.