6 October - Commencement of Legal Ombudsman service

As reported in the August edition of Bar News, on 6 October 2010 a new regime for dealing with complaints about the service provided by barristers to their clients will be introduced. On that date, the independent Legal Ombudsman scheme will commence operation and, under the terms of the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA 2007), the BSB will no longer have the ability to deal with service complaints. Instead, the handling of such complaints will fall to the Legal Ombudsman.

The Legal Ombudsman has greater powers than the BSB to resolve client service issues which include statutory powers to order payment of compensation/return of fees of up to £30,000, enforcement of orders through the High Court and the imposition on barristers of fees for handling complaints. From 6 October 2010, barristers will be obliged under the Code of Conduct to co-operate with the Legal Ombudsman and failure to do so could result in disciplinary action by the BSB. Further, the Legal Ombudsman will require that client
service complaints are considered first by the barrister’s chambers before referral to the Legal Ombudsman. It is therefore important that all barristers and Chambers ensure they have complaints procedures in place that meet the requirements of Annex S of the Code of Conduct.

If you require any further information about the Legal Ombudsman and the new regime for dealing with service complaints, please contact: