The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) is to press ahead with bids to take over complaints against claims management companies, and also extend its jurisdiction to unregulated groups such as will-writers and employment advisers.
Chief ombudsman Adam Sampson said the board of the Office for Legal Complaints – which oversees LeO – last week approved the key elements of the draft business plan which had been out to consultation.
LeO will now begin consulting over the details of these additions to its complaints scheme with a view to presenting them to the Legal Services Board and Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
The Claims Management Regulator is currently run from the MoJ and a ministry spokesman told Legal Futures: “We have had discussions with the Legal Ombudsman about the feasibility of them taking on claims management complaints, and we are looking at the options for taking it forward.”
Writing on LeO’s we
bsite, Mr Sampson said: “What has made our approach to these proposals easier, of course, has been the almost unanimous support they have received. And that is scarcely a surprise. For consumers, we are offering the promise of wider access to redress. For the profession, an equalising of the playing field and, for those who currently pay our costs, the possibility of sharing some of the operating costs of our organisation with the providers who would now fall under our remit.
“Indeed, the financial logic behind the move is one of the reasons why the profession, among others, has come out supporting the move, understanding, as lawyers do, that it can only gain rather than lose financially by the change. The devil will be in the detail, as with all these things, as many people have told us. But the principle is sound.”
As on Legal Futures, will-writers will be the first group of unregulated people whom LeO will seek to bring within its scheme. The plan is for representative bodies to submit their members to LeO’s jurisdiction. It will not offer the service to will-writers who are not members of these bodies.