New rules are being introduced in the way the Legal Ombudsman handles complaints referred to LeO from 1st February onwards.
Brief Summary of the Changes:
In summary, Section 2.8 of the scheme now includes complaints from prospective clients:
A complaint can also be made by a prospective client if you have:
- Unreasonably refused a service to a complainant;
- Persistently or unreasonably offered a service that the complainant does not want.
However, Section 5.7 will allow LeO to dismiss a complaint without investigation if the complainant cannot supply prima facie evidence and show that either financial loss or unreasonable inconvenience has been caused.
The scheme will change the time limits as follows:
- 6 years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint (previously 12 months), or;
- 3 years from the date the client should reasonably have known there were grounds (act or omission must have taken place before 6 October 2010 or have been more than 6 years ago (previously 12 months), and;
The complaint must still be brought within 6 months of the complainant receiving a final response from their lawyer.
- Financial compensation limits have been increased from £30,000 to £50,000.
- The current case fee waiver has been removed so all complaints that go to LeO will attract the £400 fee with effect from 1st April 2013.
For further information on how this affects you please visit the Legal Ombudsman website or please feel free to ask Legal Eye.
We recommend you review your current:
- Terms of Business and Client Care Letters to incorporate any changes required,
- Make appropriate amendments to your Office Manual, and
- Remind colleagues of their need for vigilance and focus on Client Satisfaction at all time to prevent a complaint arising and escalating.