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The Legal Ombudsman and SRA have today published new research looking at the information which supports consumers to choose the right legal service provider.

Read the press release here.

Read the full research here.

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LeO News is the Legal Ombudsman’s quarterly newsletter. In this edition: read all about our research with the SRA into first-tier complaints; find out more about the Head of Regulatory Policy at ICAEW in our Q&A; and hear about latest news, research and more.

Click here to access the online version of LeO News 19.

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11 April 2018

Today, the Legal Ombudsman is publishing its new Scheme Rules, which will be effective from Monday 16 April 2018.

These have been approved by the Legal Services Board. Only minor changes have been made to update the language we use in our investigations.

You can find a copy of the new Scheme Rules here. They will apply to all cases progressed to investigation on or after 16 April 2018.

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3 April 2018

Today, the Legal Ombudsman has published its final Business Plan and Budget for 2018-19, which can be viewed here.

We have taken into account feedback we received through the consultation phase which focused on issues of cost and funding, timeliness and quality of decision-making, extension of redress to unauthorised providers (and related topics found in the CMA report), and communication with members of the profession. Many thanks to all those who responded.

If you have any questions about our business plan please contact our External Affairs team at support@legalombudsman.org.uk.

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27 March 2018

We have now published our Gender Pay Gap report for 2017. The Legal Ombudsman’s staff count at the time of reporting was under the 250 threshold, however we have published our findings on a voluntary basis as we believe it is important to be transparent in this area.

The report highlights that on average, as at 5 April 2017, male staff were paid 10% more than female staff (which is similar to the 11% gap reported by the civil service). The main reason for this gap is that there were more men than women in senior roles at the time of the report.

Initiatives underway through our modernisation programme (as set out in our business plan which will be published in the next week) such as changes in our management structure, flexible working, participation in the Working Families initiative and a focus on career pathways will have a positive impact on the gender pay gap.

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The Legal Ombudsman has today published its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) on this website.

The document is an agreement between our two organisations, outlining how we will work together following the Legal Services Board’s decision to approve ACCA to start authorising probate activities. This means that the Legal Ombudsman will be able to consider complaints from consumers who have received a legal service from accountants authorised for probate by ACCA.

View the new MoU on the Legal Ombudsman’s master web page on our website. For more details about ACCA, please visit their website.

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14 March, 2018
We have published the details of a series of decisions about Claimline Direct UK Limited. Our board have decided to highlight concerns about the company after receiving over 100 complaints and completing 69 investigations into their handling of PPI claims. The key areas of concerns about Claimline Direct UK Limited are:

  • They are not progressing the claims or updating their customers.
  • They are not refunding the fees of £495.

Advice for consumers:

    • If you have already brought a complaint about Claimline Direct UK Limited to the Legal Ombudsman we will continue to investigate your case, and update you when this is completed.
    • If you are concerned about a claim you have taken out with Claimline Direct UK Limited please visit our consumer section [http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/cmc/] for advice on making a complaint, or call us on 0300 555 0333.

To find out more you can read our published press release and our summary of the decision. The decision to publish this information is in line with our Publishing Decisions Policy

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13 February, 2018

The Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) has today welcomed the appointment of three new non-executive directors.

Joining the OLC board will be Dr Jane Martin CBE, currently Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel and a former ombudsman; qualified solicitor Elisabeth Bellamy, who has been a member of the Law Society Professional Standards and Ethics Committee for six years; and Annette Lovell, director of engagement at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Wanda Goldwag, Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), said: “I am delighted with the appointments of such an experienced group of non-executive directors.

“Jane Martin has detailed knowledge of consumer needs in the legal sector from her role at the Legal Services Consumer Panel, while Elisabeth Bellamy brings a wealth of experience including training solicitors on compliance. Annette Lovell knows only too well the world of the ombudsman from FOS and also the legal sector from working at the Solicitors Regulation Authority.”

Independent and impartial, The Legal Ombudsman investigates complaints and offers a free service to easily guide the public through the process of making complaints when they feel they have experienced poor service from regulated legal or claims management service providers.

These appointments replace outgoing members Caroline Coates, Tony King and Jane McCall.

Dr Jane Martin CBE was previously the Local Government Ombudsman and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England. In that role, she was also a non-executive member of the Board of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and a vice-chair of the Ombudsman Association. Dr Martin is now a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. In a career dedicated to understanding and promoting public service accountability, she has conducted research at the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick respectively and worked with local authorities across England. She was the first Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny.  Dr Martin is currently Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, a role from which she will have to stand down to take up the post of OLC board member.

Elisabeth Bellamy is a qualified and experienced solicitor with a varied legal background. Her early career included working for large firms both in the UK and Singapore. Since 2015, she has been a Director and Management Consultant with Purple Performance Ltd, her own business consultancy business. Immediately prior to that she held an in-house role on an interim basis for 13 months (maternity cover) with BASF plc. For 11 years she was Managing Partner at Drummonds Solicitors in Chester (2001 – 2012), a mid-sized practice which was subsequently merged with Linder Myers (2012 – 2014). Elisabeth is an independent Board Member of Archery GB, and has been a member of the Law Society Professional Standards and Ethics Committee for six years – Elisabeth will be standing down from this TLS committee to take up the OLC role.

Annette Lovell has worked for the Financial Ombudsman Service since 2013, where she is the director of engagement. This is her second period of employment with the Financial Ombudsman Service, having also worked there between 2010 and 2013, latterly as a lead ombudsman. Between 2013 and 2015, Annette worked for the Solicitors Regulation Authority as Director of Authorisation and then Director of Regulatory Policy. Annette is a former Deputy Chief Executive of the National Lottery Commission.

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5 February, 2018

The Legal Ombudsman responded today to the final report of the Competition and Markets Authority’s Legal Services Market Study.

The report was issued by the Competition and Markets Authority in December 2016. It outlines findings and recommendations to address the issues individual consumers and small businesses experience when purchasing legal services in England and Wales.

We welcome the opportunity to respond to this constructive report which will assist all stakeholders in this area to ensure that the market is functioning well for consumers of legal services.

More information and a copy of our response can be viewed here.

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2 February, 2018

Today, the Legal Ombudsman is publishing minor linguistic changes to its Scheme Rules for a period of representations, in compliance with Section 205 of the Legal Services Act 2007.

These changes are not substantive. They are made in line with recommendations from the Language of Complaints research, published in November 2017.

The period for representations will run for 4 weeks from 2 February to 2 March. The Legal Ombudsman will consider all responses to proposed changes and welcome the support of stakeholders to ensure that we do not lose the meaning of the rules in any language changes.

Please note that responses should relate only to the changes cited in the paper. Wider consideration on the content of our Scheme Rules is not included in this current period of representations.

More information and a copy of our response can be viewed here.

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