Law firms with the worst complaints records could find themselves named and shamed by the Legal Ombudsman. The ombudsman is consulting on plans to publish annual reviews about a set percentage of legal service providers. It says these are likely to be firms with the highest number of complaints.
The ombudsman wants to provide consumers with more information about complaints and service quality and has published a discussion paper setting out the options. It follows a 2016 report by the Competition and Markets Authority which called for greater transparency from law firms and regulators.
Other ideas floated by the ombudsman are to provide extra filters in its website to help consumers search its decision data or to publish all ombudsman decisions. It says that adding filters will be a low-cost solution, but that publishing all decisions will require additional technology and staff resources which are not currently available. The consultation is open until 9 December 2019.
“The thought of being named and shamed will be very worrying to law firms practicing in areas with high levels of complaints,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions. “Whilst the report cited concerns that present practices around data publication might already be giving consumers false impressions and wanted these addressed, a problem remains that some areas of practice are more prone to complaints than others. Volume of complaints has to be considered in the context of volume and type of work, in order to avoid unfairly dealing with certain specialist firms.”
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