Complaints handling begins new era

The Legal Ombudsman will begin considering client complaints on 6 October. The new service, which has been created by the Legal Ombudsman (“LeO”), will handle all complaints from lay clients about barristers, solicitors and other types of legal professional.

Chief Ombudsman, Adam Sampson said: “I believe that lawyers in particular should feel relieved that we are on track to open in October.
“Bringing together redress for legal services within one independent body represents good value for money for the profession as well as giving everyone –consumers and lawyers – greater confidence in the system.”

The LeO will have powers to fine barristers up to £30,000. However, it will not be involved in the investigation of complaints of professional misconduct or in disciplinary issues.
Conduct issues relating to barristers will remain with the Bar Standards Board (“BSB”) as will all complaints which were made before 6 April 2010.  

Lay clients have a time limit to make a complaint of one year from the act or omission or the time they should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint.