Ombudsman criticises SRA for ‘poor’ decisions

The Legal Service Ombudsman (LSO), Zahida Manzoor, has highlighted a drop in performance at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) over 2008-09.

In cases referred by consumers to the Ombudsman, she was not satisfied with the way the SRA had handled the complaints process in 25 per cent of cases. This was an increase of five per cent on the previous year.

Some 81 per cent of the cases the LSO was dissatisfied with reflected a “poor decision”. In her Annual Report and Accounts Manzoor said: “In comparison to the year before I have noted an increase in the number of cases that I have asked the SRA to reconsider.

“The main reasons that I have asked the SRA to reconsider cases are because I disagreed with the reasonableness of their decision, I recommended that they should seek further evidence before reaching a decision, and I considered that they had not made a decision on all aspects of the complaint.”

The SRA’s director of regulation response Colin Quinney commented: “Our efforts to streamline our systems and improve communications are clearly paying off, with a significant fall in the number of issues upheld about poor service and administration.

“While recommendations by the LSO for us to reconsider cases have increased, we were able to confirm that the right regulatory outcome had been reached in all but two of the cases reconsidered.”

As a result of poor service the SRA was told to pay consumers a total of £3,120 in compensation over 2008-09, an average award of £390. This was a drop from the total of £13,250 paid out over the previous year – in which there was an average award of £491.