Lawyers “failing” in their duty to signpost clients to Legal Ombudsman

Stone: regulations are quite clear

Stone: regulations are quite clear

Lawyers are still failing in their regulatory duty to tell clients about the right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO), its research has found.

When asked how they first heard about the scheme, only 20% of 3,680 consumers who had been in contact with the LeO said it was from their lawyer.

A separate analysis of a representative sample of 100 cases found that 72 firms had provided no signposting information or had provided incorrect signposting information.

Signposting has been a regulatory requirement since October 2011 and many lawyers’ failure to do it a running theme of recent years. A 2011 survey found that just 8% of lawyers told clients about the LeO, while the then Office of Fair Trading criticised the shortcomings in 2013.

The findings do, however, contradict a statement by the LeO just last year that said “the majority of legal service providers signpost to our service effectively”.

The LeO said today that the lack of signposting has contributed to a general reduction in awareness of the scheme, meaning consumers might not know where to go for help when things go wrong.

Chief ombudsman Kathryn Stone said: “Many people could be losing their chance to put things right after receiving poor service, simply because they don’t know where to go.

“Legal regulations are quite clear that lawyers should be telling clients about how to complain if they are unhappy, and that they can bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman if they’re dissatisfied with their lawyer’s handling of a complaint.”

The LeO’s guidance to lawyers says there should be clear signposting to the scheme in the initial client-care letter, and also when they have finished their internal, first-tier complaints handling.

    Readers Comments

  • Mr Sensible says:

    Perhaps the LEO (sorry LeO) have a vested interest in people raising complaints. However, how would it seem if your doctor flagged up your abolity to complain to a legal body in case he does something wrong or is not able to cure you within a certain amount of time. Legal clients are notoriously particular (and ungrateful) when it comes to getting things done in what they feel is a reasonable time span irrespective of any knowledge of how long it may take to run something. They are also under the impression they know how the system works and continuously doubt the lawyer bombarding them with questions. It is difficult enough without these retarded idiots at LEO (sorry, LeO) trying to stir up things. Just leave the lawyers be to get on with their work instead of pushing such garbage upon them making their lives uncenessarily difficult. Cost regimes have already decimated the industry please butt out and shut up. You imbeciles..

  • Promediate says:

    This evidence does not support the statement. Moreover, firms also have to signpost to a certified ADR Provider like ProMediate. Many clients prefer to go through mediation than get tied up with the LeO.

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