Commission slams Law Society complaints handling

The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner has criticised a lack of progress in the Law Society’s handling of consumer complaints.

The commissioner, Zahida Manzoor, published her findings from an audit into complaints handling by the society. The audit reveals that consumers have to wait an average of six months for their complaints to be handled, but that delays can stretch to 27 months.

Manzoor said: “I am concerned that these problems are similar to those I have previously identified as Legal Services Ombudsman, and demonstrate that the Law Society has not yet turned around its handling of complaints.”

There was one case where the Law Society made four separate compensation payments because of its own delays, totalling 18 months.

The Law Society recently agreed a plan for improving complaints handling with the commissioner, which Manzoor will be monitoring closely.

In a statement, Law Society chief executive Janet Paraskeva said: “[…] it is simply wrong to say that there are currently delays in seven out of ten cases. The audit the LSCC refers to looked at cases up to 18 months old. Since then, our records show that we consistently resolved over 50% of cases in less than three months. However, we are not complacent, and have worked with the LSCC who has agreed our plan of action for the next 12 months.”