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Just three out of ten law firms tell their clients about their right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) about poor service at the end of their internal complaints procedure.  Now the LeO has published new guidance to tell solicitors how to signpost their clients to the ombudsman service.

Research conducted by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and the LeO at the end of last year revealed that while most law firms told clients about the LeO at the point of engagement, the majority were failing to remind their clients about the service following a complaint. This is despite it being a regulatory requirement.

The LeO’s new guide ‘Signposting consumers to the Legal Ombudsman’ has been designed to help firms meet their obligations.  It sets out when firms should tell their clients about their complaints procedures and the LeO.  The guide also sets out suggested text that firms can use to ensure that their clients are fully informed about their rights.

The guide also reminds firms that unless they inform clients about the six-month time limit to make a complaint to the LeO, then the time limit does not apply.  This could mean that complaints drag on far longer than necessary.

 “Good complaints handling procedures can often prevent a simple mistake turning into a costly negligence claim,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions.  “Insurers take note of complaints and claims records when assessing whether to offer professional indemnity insurance to firms and at what price.  It makes good business sense for firms to make sure that they have effective complaints procedures in place and follow LeO’s guidance in full.”

LeO’s new signposting guide has been published on its website.  Reports about the new guidance have been published by the Law Society Gazette and Today’s Conveyancer.

Brunel Professions is a leading provider of PII insurance broking to the legal profession. To find out more call Mark Sommariva on 0203 475 3275.