The news items and other information on this site do not purport to be comprehensive or to give legal or professional advice. cpm21 does not provide legal advice. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither cpm21, its owners, employees, associates, collaborators, agents or trainers can be held liable for any errors or omissions or inaccuracies contained within each communication, on its website, or in articles, tweets, posts or blogs on social networking sites. Readers should not act upon (or refrain from acting upon) information provided without first taking further specialist or professional advice. cpm21.

The Legal Ombudsman Scheme

 The Legal Ombudsman Scheme

All practices should know about the new Legal Ombudsman, particularly as it is yet another change that required updates to Office Manuals, Websites, Client Care Letters, Complaints Procedures and any other documentation where the previous legal complaints handler, the Legal Complaints Service was referenced. All of this should have been updated in October 2010.

But do many practices know the difference in approach that is and will be taken from previous complaints handlers?

The new Ombudsman, [also known as the LeO] is given its powers by the Legal Services Act 2007. The act gives them, in their own words, "teeth and claws" which can be used if necessary. An Ombudsman can order a broad range of remedies, including the power to order up to £30,000 redress. They also have statutory powers to compel co-operation.

Decisions made by the Ombudsman will in the main be based on an understanding of whether the service provided was reasonable and the outcome fair for the consumer. Note the use of the word "outcome" which is also heavily used by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for its new "Outcome Focussed Regulation" policy for next year.

Examination will be made of how a firm may have handled the initial complaint. The LeO believes that Lexcel firms will be at an advantage for this, as provision of an adequate service and the handling of complaints is a central principle of the standard.

Complaints handling is being focussed on following the push by the Law Society and the Legal Services Board on first tier complaints handling. Solicitors have a new duty to resolve complaints within an eight week period. It seems clear that where some firms have operated a "loosely organised" complaints process in the past, there will have to be a much more robust methodology for handling them.

To check out CPM21 Support Services or Training Courses related to this article, please click on the link below;