Legal Ombudsman to launch online complaints portal

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2 October 2014

Sampson: engage with third-party providers

The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) is to launch a complaints portal this month that will enable lawyers to manage all of their contact with the organisation online.

LeO will also encourage consumers to manage their complaint through the portal, which should help them to keep track of what stage the complaint is at.

The portal will hold complaints details, confirmation of resolutions to complaints, and access to decisions on complaints, case fees and publishing decisions.

Details about how to set up an account will be sent to firms’ compliance officers for legal practice by e-mail, but it will not be mandatory. LeO said it will still deal with information coming in by post and e-mail and will continue to discuss complaints with both consumers and lawyers over the phone “as much as possible”.

Meanwhile, online complaints service Resolver is set to enter the legal market.

Resolver – which is a member of AdviceUK, TrustMark and the Trading Standards Institute – helps consumers prepare their complaints, records all communications (including actually recording telephone conversations), creates a case file, and knows when to escalate complaints, including to the relevant ombudsman.

Founder James Walker said the details of nearly 12,000 law firms would go live on the site later this month, and would benefit lawyers by helping to manage consumers’ expectations – unlike various consumer forums which he said often provide “a lot of bad advice”.

Chief Legal Ombudsman Adam Sampson said: “We don’t endorse any commercial third-party providers of complaint resolution services. However, where such services are offered and used by consumers, we will engage with providers to ensure the complaint is handled as quickly and effectively as possible.

“Our priority is ensuring that consumers know where to complain and when, while lawyers should be confident that each complaint will be dealt with professionally and fairly.”

Resolver has also announced a partnership with lawyer comparison website Access Solicitor, which will allow Access Solicitor to integrate into the algorithm it uses to find the best lawyers for the user Resolver’s complaints-handling algorithm, which has been developed by Henley Business School.

Separately, Access Solicitor has formed a relationship with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) that will see the website endorse the APIL accreditation and promote APIL’s legal guides.

Access Solicitor founder Warren Smith said the website has already collected accreditation information self-published by 5,500 lawyers and continues to expand this by 5,000 lawyers per month. “Cross referencing the data that Access Solicitor collects with APIL enables APIL to police the use of its mark, and simultaneously ensures the accuracy of APIL membership information that Access Solicitor publishes,” he said.

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