OSS failures shame the legal profession

THE OFFICE for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) was in the firing line yet again last week, after being ordered to pay u1,000 compensation for poor complaints handling.

Legal Services Ombudsman, Ann Abraham's ruling highlighted how the OSS had failed at the most basic level to reply to the complainants letters and phone calls.

Sadly, such tardiness is not an isolated incident, and the ruling is another appaling indictment on the OSS's management in failing to deal with a massive complaints backlog.

Solicitors may despise the OSS for constantly "pandering" to clients they see as cranky or just plain crazy. Yet self-regulation is vastly preferable to the Government playing legal nanny and charging the profession sky-high rates for the service.

However, it may be too late. Senior ministers are already hinting that a solicitor-run complaints service has had its day. The OSS is not so much drinking in Last Chance Saloon, as having already staggered outside on to the pavement and lurched head first towards the gutter.