LeO Increase Complaints Time Limit
The Legal Ombudsman increases complaints time limit from six to twelve months
The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has recently announced that from July this year, the time that clients have to bring a complaint to their attention will double from 6 months to 12 months (from the date of receiving a final response from their legal service provider).
The change is as a result of the European Union Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR Directive) which came into force on 8th July 2013. The UK has until 9th July 2015 to transpose the requirements of the Directive into national law. The purpose of the Directive is to ensure all consumers in the EU have access to an ADR scheme to seek redress in relation to any problems they experience with goods or services they have purchased. The LeO is an existing ADR body and therefore needs to ensure its rules comply with the terms of the Directive and, if they do not, make changes where necessary.
The LeO have already proposed some changes to their rules - but these changes are subject to consideration and approval by the Legal Services Board. However, the LeO recent announcement about the changes were made to 'bring the principle to legal service providers' attention now, so that they can prepare accordingly'.
So in practice, what do the changes mean?
Clients will now have 12 months to bring a complaint to the Leo from the date of receiving a final response from their legal service provider. The new time limit will apply to all clients who receive their final response letters on or after 9th July 2015.
All firms should ensure that the following is prepared ready for 9th July 2015:
- Amend their client care letters/terms of business letters to reflect the new time limit - although the amended letters should not be used until 9th July 2015;
- Ensure all final response letters sent on or after 9th July 2015 refer to the new time limit; and
- Update their complaints procedures with the new time limit.
Watch this space....
According to the guidance issued by the LeO on their website, the full implications of the Directive are still being determined by them. They may need to make further changes to their scheme rules and will be undertaking a review of the rules later in the year. If any further changes are announced, cpm21 will contact clients to let them know what the effect of these changes will be.