Since their launch in October last year The Legal Ombudsman has been contacted by 38,155 consumers. For every 10 contacts 1 becomes an accepted case with 3,768 cases having been opened in the first six months.
The biggest proportion of complaints related to residential conveyancing with 20 per cent of complainants unhappy with services related to the buying and selling of property. Coming a close second was family law — is it coincidence that these two areas contain two out of the top ten “most stressful life events”?
The top complaint category was failure to advise, 16 per cent of complaints related to this, failure to follow instructions was next with 15 per cent. A complaint category that I thought would have been higher was delay. Only 12 per cent of the complaints received related to delays.
When the Legal Ombudsman was first launched in October they were accepting 27 complaints per day but as at March that figure had risen to 34 per day. The Legal Ombudsman believe this increase could be due to many people initially being advised to raise the issue with their lawyer in the first instance. According to the Legal Ombudsman some of these complainants are now coming back to them following an unsuccessful attempt at resolving the issue themselves.
In the first six months the Legal Ombudsman have resolved 1,450 cases, considerably fewer cases than had been accepted but the expectation is that, as the Legal Ombudsman move out of their “start-up phase”, a higher number of closed cases will be evident in the future. A formal decision was required in just 7 per cent of the total closed cases.
Commenting on the timeliness of their performance the Legal Ombudsman says:
“We want to resolve complaints as quickly and fairly as possible. In our first six months we resolved 55 per cent of cases within three months of a consumer’s first contact with us, 76 per cent within four months and 92 per cent within five months”.
Consumers, and lawyers too, don’t want red tape or long, complicated forms in order to sort out complaints so it would appear that the Legal Ombudsman is a good way to resolve disputes on an informal basis. Have the Legal Ombudsman met the consumers’ needs? Only time will tell.
Today’s Conveyancer, bringing you the latest conveyancing news and updates.