BSB wins praise from ombudsman

Legal Services Ombudsman Zahida Manzoor singled out the Bar Standards Board (“BSB”) for praise in her final annual report and accounts.


She highlighted its consistently high satisfaction rating and the introduction of several initiatives to improve performance, including appointing a Complaints Commissioner in 2006 to undertake a strategic review of complaints and disciplinary processes. She notes that the BSB began implementing nearly all of the 65 improvements recommended by the review last year.

Manzoor also praised the BSB’s commitment to chambers handling complaints in-house, and the promotion of diversity and equality throughout the Bar.

Overall, Manzoor reported that “significant in-roads” have been made in legal complaints handling across the professions. Manzoor’s role will disappear in October when the new Legal Ombudsman opens for business.

The Legal Complaints Service (“LCS”), which receives about 13,000 complaints about solicitors per year, is now achieving more than 80 per cent customer satisfaction compared to 52 per cent in 2006.

Files closed within three months of receipt in 70 per cent of complaints, within six months in 86 per cent of complaints and nearly all files were closed within a year. This is an improvement on 2005 when more than 1,200 LCS complaints languished for more than a year.

The Law Society and LCS faced a series of fines between 2006 and 2008 for “inadequate” complaints handling procedures.
However, Manzoor noted the work of the Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman  in helping miners recover money wrongly deducted by some solicitors from compensation awards.

She said: “I am happy to report that significant in-roads have been made in all the professional bodies’ complaint handling processes enabling a speedier and more consistent approach to decision making.”  

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