Report turns up heat on Society complaints

PRESSURE is mounting on the Law Society to give up its control of complaints handling despite its insistence that the issue is a red herring.

The National Consumer Council has just circulated its response to the Law Society's consultation on reform of the Solicitors Complaints Bureau.

It rejects society plans to make a revamped bureau more independent.

“We remain convinced the complaints body must operate completely independently of the Law Society,” the influential pressure group states.

Calls for an independent complaints handling body are mounting steadily.

Last month saw the creation of a new group, Complaints against Solicitors Action for Independent Adjudication, which aims to force the Law Society to relinquish its control of complaints handling.

But Paul Pharoah, chair of the Law Society's adjudication and appeals committee, insists that the consumer lobby is missing the point.

“We need to improve complaints handling, but I don't think it all follows that it has to be made independent,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Law Society has just started to advertise for a new Solicitors Complaints Bureau chief executive following Veronica Lowe's departure from the post last year.

Pharoah said he hoped the new head could oversee reform of the bureau.