Ombudsman raps OSS over delays

The Legal Services Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has called for the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) to pay a disgruntled complainant £100 to compensate for the way it handled his complaint against a firm.

Although Abraham supported the OSS's decision not to pursue chartered accountant Robert Breckman's complaints against City aviation litigation specialists Beaumont & Son, she chastised it for delays in dealing with his concerns. Not only was correspondence lost, but the OSS also failed to inform him about its decision.

Breckman had objected to Beaumont & Son's conduct while defending an airline against a claim that he had made as a litigant in person.

The firm was reprimanded by the judge three times during the hearings for refusing to postpone a hearing at Breckman's request and failing to supply Breckman with documents he had requested.

The second time he complained to the OSS, Breckman had to wait eight- and-a-half months for a decision, despite telephoning.

Breckman said: “The whole affair leaves me with an unpleasant taste. If this is the way solicitors behave, the bad publicity they get is fully deserved.”

OSS spokeswoman Zoe Etherington said the compensation would be paid. “There may have been an element of human error involved,” she said.

The OSS says it will speed-up its complaints handling.