Law Society warns of consumer threat
Expanding the ambit of the Legal Ombudsman to cover complaints about unregulated legal providers could, the Law Society warns, be detrimental to consumers.
Responding to a Legal Ombudsman (LeO) consultation on proposals to widen its remit the Law Society has expressed concerns that consumer confusion as to who is regulated and who isn’t regulated will arise. The consequence, it warns, will be that LeO’s effectiveness and efficiency in its core jurisdiction could be affected.
The LeO proposals are, in part, a response to a new European directive that will require service providers to have third-party complaints handlers.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said:
‘We recognise that the implementation of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) directive coming from Europe may lead to unregulated providers requiring an ADR provider. However, we do not believe it is appropriate to use the Legal Ombudsman’s voluntary jurisdiction to provide this due to the adverse effect on their core jurisdiction.
‘We also foresee difficulties in the Legal Ombudsman managing a voluntary scheme. Unscrupulous providers may use membership of such a scheme to provide them with legitimacy and allow them to take clients’ money before disappearing, leaving the Legal Ombudsman to deal with the complaints. The Legal Ombudsman would be in no position to help clients who had lost money.’
Further details of the Law Society’s response to the LeO’s proposal “Access to redress for legal and other professional services” can be found on the Law Society web site at www.lawsociety.org.uk/representation/policy-discussion/access-to-redress-for-legal-and-other-professional-services/.