Legal Services Ombudsman


Legal Services Ombudsman

In England and Wales, the Legal Services Ombudsman is a statutory office that investigates allegations about the improper, ineffective or inefficient way that complaints about lawyers are handled by their respective self-regulating professional bodies. The Ombudsman is appointed by, and is answerable to, the Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice. [Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, ss.21-26/ Sch.3]

The Ombudsman started work on 2 January 1991, and in its first decade undertook 10,531 investigations:
*9,456 complaints about solicitors;
*1,036 complaints about barristers; and
*39 complaints about licensed conveyancers.

Around 60% of the firms of solicitors in England and Wales and around 8% of practising barristers were subject of a complaint to the Ombudsman in that time. [ cite web | title=Annual Report 2000-2001: Reflecting Progress | url=http://www.olso.org/publications/AnnualReports/files/AR2001-english.pdf | publisher=Legal Services Ombudsman | year=2001 | accessdate=2008-03-08 ]

As of 2008, the Ombudsman is Zahida Manzoor.

Powers

The Ombudsman can: [Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, s.23]
*Recommend that the professional body re-investigate a complaint;
*Order the re-inestigation;
*Formally criticise the professional body;
*Award compensation for distress or inconvenience. There is also a power to re-investigate the original complaint but this is only used in exceptional circumstances.

Reform

When the Legal Services Act 2007 fully comes into force, the Ombudsman will be abolished and replaced with an Office for Legal Complaints to supervise complaints handling. [Legal Services Act 2007, ss.114-159/ Sch.15]

References

External links

* cite web | title=Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman | accessdate=2008-03-08 | url=http://www.olso.org/default.asp


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