Irish code aims to cut complaints

A NEW statutory code of conduct for solicitors is being considered by the Republic of Ireland's Incorporated Law Society after a “disturbing” level of complaints by the public.

The society, which regulates the conduct of Ireland's 4,000 solicitors, says it is “acutely aware of the need for resolute action to reduce the volume of complaints”.

In the past year there have been 1,200 complaints arising from 6,000 letters to the society. The figures are revealed in the first annual report by two lay observers appointed to the registrar's committee, one from Irish trade unions, the other from Irish business.

The report, which has been sent to the former Irish justice minister, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, calls for improvements in the society's complaints machinery and recommends the introduction of procedures to tackle the difficulties in solicitor/client relationships.

The main complaints relate to the failure of solicitors to communicate with clients and delays in dealing with the problem. Failure to hand over files and to account properly are also cited, as well as unauthorised action by assistants in solicitors' practices.

The law society has endorsed the recommendations and is promising “appropriate action to ensure they are implemented”. It is considering the issue of a new statutory code of conduct which will deal with complaints handling procedures within firms.