OSS placed on Parliament's inquiry hit-list

THE HOME Affairs Committee has put the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) on a short list of issues it believes may merit investigation.

But it may be spared the embarrassment of an inquiry for some time because the committee is able to hold only a handful of inquiries each year.

A committee source said MPs and members of the public had written to the committee asking it to examine the OSS's complaints handling record and assess the ability of the solicitors' profession to regulate itself.

He added: “There is stiff competition for space on its [the committee's] agenda.”

Among the MPs who have asked for an inquiry is Labour's Gerry Sutcliffe, who tabled an early day motion last year calling for an independent complaints handling body.

He said the committee's chair, Chris Mullin, had told him he was minded to hold an inquiry, although Mullin said there were no “immediate” plans for an inquiry, but one could take place in the future.

Sutcliffe said there was substantial cross-party support for the OSS to be abolished and he was preparing to present Geoff Hoon, the parliamentary Secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department, with case studies detailing the “horrendous” experiences of those who had complained to the OSS.

However, he conceded that Hoon had indicated that the Government was prepared to give the Law Society time to put its house in order.