Independent commissioner praises Law Soc’s complaints-handling

The Law Society’s independent commissioner last week concluded three years of work examining complaints-handling by praising the society’s progress, but recommended more work in the future.

In his valedictory report, Sir Stephen Lander outlined changes the Law Society has made, but said: “I believe there’s room for development in a number of areas.”

Lander was first appointed in 2002 to oversee the way in which the Law Society handled its consumer redress and complaints system and has spent his time examining attitudes within the solicitors’ profession to complaints. His period of office has also encompassed Sir David Clementi’s review of regulation and the ensuing government white paper on legal services.

He said: “Close attention will… need to be paid to the terms of the white paper and to the drafting of the forthcoming legislation if the society is to be allowed to develop effectively and to escape from some of the out-of-date shackles of current legislation, including from its current complicated and sometimes unnecessarily burdensome oversight arrangements.”

Lander said he had made 34 formal recommendations and a similar number of suggestions to the society about the way it handles complaints. However, the society has taken only limited action on most of the recommendations.

The post of independent commissioner has cost approximately £1m over Lander’s three-year tenure. He now takes up a role as a lay member of the new regulatory board when it begins work in January.