The service forms part of the new Birmingham-based umbrella body, the Office for Legal Complaints, which replaces the much maligned Law Society-operated Legal Complaints Service.
Chief ombudsman Adam Sampson stated in the run-up to launch that ‘lawyers … 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’.
Coalition government justice minister Jonathan Djanogly has touted the ombudsman as providing ‘a single, clear and efficient complaints service to ensure we have the best possible legal services, at a time when more firms, and different types of firms, will be able to join the industry’.
The Legal Services Board – which has oversight responsibility for regulating all branches of the profession in England and Wales – recently published rules requiring lawyers to provide clear information to clients about their right to complain about a lawyer and guidance on how to make that complaint.
Complaints handling has long been a thorn in the side of the solicitors’ profession, with the Law Society creating and disbanding a series of bodies designed to tackle an at times insurmountable mountain of allegations from dissatisfied law firm clients. Indeed, the society’s inability to get to grips with the problem was one of the main motivations behind the last government’s decision to create the Legal Services Board.