MPs have approved the appointment of Wanda Goldwag as the new chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) – the body that oversees the Legal Ombudsman – as it also emerged that she has small shareholdings in two major alternative business structures (ABSs).
Issuing its report following a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing earlier this week, the justice select committee said: “We consider that Wanda Goldwag fully meets the criteria necessary to fulfil the role of chair of the Office for Legal Complaints effectively, and we endorse her suitability for it.”
She will be paid £52,500 for a minimum commitment of 60 days a year.
As Legal Futures reported when she was named as the Legal Services Board’s preferred candidate, Ms Goldwag has been an adviser to private equity firm Smedvig Capital since 2000.
Smedvig is invested in both MyHome Move – which owns Premier Property Lawyers, the first ABS to be licensed in England and Wales – and Kings Court Trust, a leading probate provider that entered regulation as an ABS licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyacers.
She has declared holding a “very small” stake – less than £10,000 – in each of them, and in a letter to the committee said she would “of course ensure that any risk of conflict of interest is properly mitigated”.
Her appointment will arguably place extra scrutiny on the way the two ABSs handle complaints.
She is also chair and independent standards commissioner of the Senet Group, the body set up to self-regulate the gambling industry, founder and non-executive chair of HR business True North Human Capital, and a lay member of the QC appointments panel.
Her role as a Civil Service Commissioner comes to an end next week, and the committee asked Ms Goldwag whether she would continue with the other four positions if confirmed as chair of the OLC.
It reported: “She said that they were non-executive roles which were not full-time, and did not indicate that she saw any need to relinquish or reduce her commitment to any of them.”
The report revealed that 16 people applied for the role, and Ms Goldwag was the appointment panel’s unanimous choice, saying she was “well above the appointable standard”.
The panel said: “The preferred candidate gave a strong and impressive performance, getting straight to the point of answers and demonstrating an intuitive understanding of the challenges facing the OLC.
“Her performance was enhanced by the breadth of experience she was able to draw upon to illustrate her answers, with an emphasis on innovation.”