The Law Society has hit back at one of its harshest critics the Legal Services Ombudsman and the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor.
The leadership of the Law Society has united and taken the unprecedented step of issuing a press release rounding on Manzoor, who said that “The Law Society itself is letting down the profession” in an interview with The Lawyer (March 20).
Kevin Martin, president of the Law Society, said: “It is regrettable that rarely does she give the Law Society due credit for the massive improvements in complaints handling which have occurred since the turn of the century.”
Law Society chief executive, Janet Paraskeva, went one step further with the harshest attack on Manzoor. She said: “Things were never destined to be easy: nobody expects their watchdog to do anything but bark…she appears to be deliberately damaging the potential of our new Consumer Complaints Service and that cannot be in the interests of consumers.”
Paskareva went on to criticise the government: “The decision to give the Ombudsman the additional role of Complaints Commissioner has caused us immense concern from the start. As Ombudsman, Ms Manzoor assesses the Law Society’s handling of individual complaints that have been referred to her. As Complaints Commissioner, she sets performance targets for the Law Society. Those targets include the quality of complaints handling – as assessed by her in her role as Ombudsman. This is a clear conflict of interest: Ms Manzoor is allowed to act as police, judge and jury. An independent review recommended that the roles should not be combined in the same person: the Government ignored that advice.”