OSS calls for greater investigation power

THE OFFICE for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) has attacked the Home Office for failing to help it crack down on “dodgy solicitors” and is calling on the Government to increase its powers.

The criticism comes after the OSS had to ask the Legal Aid Board (LAB) to investigate firms suspected of legal aid fraud – two of which it closed down last week. The OSS does not have the LAB's power to demand relevant files.

Law Society president Michael Mathews and OSS director Peter Ross claim they have repeatedly written to the Home Office asking for details of dubious firms but have never received any answers.

An OSS spokesman says that even though the Home Office keeps calling for improved standards in the legal profession, it is proving to be the “weak link in the chain”.

“The Home Office has given us a list of firms which it claims are dodgy, but it won't provide information as to what they are suspected of.

The OSS says that means that the firms in question could be being rude to clients or involved in serious legal aid fraud

The OSS wants its powers extended beyond just investigating solicitors mishandling clients files.

No one at the Home Office was available for comment.