Chequered history of the OSS

THE OFFICE for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) has had a troubled history. It formed in 1996 as a replacement for the much-maligned Solicitors' Complaints Bureau (SCB). Critics called the OSS: “The same leopard with the same spots.”

The OSS receives about 40,000-plus complaints a year and has a backlog of 5,000 case files.

There is a delay of 26 weeks from when complaints are first referred to the OSS. The Law Society admits this is “totally unacceptable”.

The OSS has a 1999 budget of u9.05m and employs about 200 staff. Most, says the Law Society, are case workers.

According to the Legal Services Ombudsman's 1997 report, 6 per cent of complaints dealt with by the OSS were subsequently referred to the ombudsman.

In 70 per cent of cases, the ombudsman was satisfied with the way the complaint was handled.