The new chair of the Office for Legal Complaints – which oversees the Legal Ombudsman – has outlined his ambition for the service to cover unregulated providers of legal services and those offering legal advice as part of a wider package.
In his first statement of intent since taking over from Elizabeth France, retired chief constable Steve Green also said he wanted to improve the way lawyers respond to complaints.
Mr Green was formerly a member of the Legal Services Board, and said that while the Legal Services Act has “many flaws”, he believed in its aims and that it has been “a force for good”.
In his time on the board, he tried “to act as a passionate advocate for the legal services reform agenda and the need to improve the way the legal market works for consumers”.
Mr Green identified three priority areas for his work as chair, one of which was to see LeO “play a leading role in providing redress to all parts of the legal services sector”, endorsing LeO’s previously expressed desire to have a broader remit.
Mr Green explained: “This would include those who choose to use unregulated services as well as those who use bundled services where the legal component is but one part of a wider package.
“In that vein, I welcome the forthcoming inclusion of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales into the family of legal regulators and look forward to working with them to ensure that their customers have access to effective redress. In addition, setting up the claims management jurisdiction in a few months time will be a welcome test of our ability to develop our business. Hopefully it will only be the start of a longer journey.”
Mr Green’s second priority was “to make an even bigger impact on the willingness of consumers to raise issues and the responsiveness of service providers to those issues”.
He said: “I have no doubt that LeO has already been a force for good in this regard but I want to us to go further. I feel sure that we can do more to help professionals improve the way they respond to complaints and also to support the Chief Ombudsman in publicising the lessons learned from the wide variety of cases we handle.”
Third, he will move LeO’s aspirations along from achieving a successful start-up towards being seen as ‘best in class’.
“We intend to ensure that we are making the best use of state-of-the-art technology and capitalising on the skills and commitment of our employees so that we can provide the best possible service for the lowest possible cost.”
Mr Green was fulsome in his praise of the legal profession. “I was both fortunate and privileged, during my time as a police officer, to work with many inspirational lawyers. At various times I was advised by them, worked in partnership with them, and even ‘crossed swords’ with them across the court room floor.
“Invariably, they were people who shared my passion for fairness and justice and who applied their skills to upholding the law.”