The Law Society could face a fine of up to £1m if it fails to deal with complaints, it was announced last week (13 September).
Following consultation with legal professional bodies, an Order was laid before Parliament to fix the maximum penalty at £1m. As first revealed on www.thelawyer. com (13 September), the Legal Services Ombudsman Zahida Manzoor, who is also the Legal Service Complaints Commissioner, can impose the fine if she finds the society has not handled complaints adequately.
Last year, Manzoor was satisfied with just 53.3 per cent of the complaints handled by the Law Society that were referred to her.
This was the lowest rating the society had received for four years.
However, the Law Society maintains that the handling of grievances is improving and that it is closing more cases each year. In a statement, the society said it did not expect Manzoor to need to use her new powers.
Manzoor is continuing to work with the society to improve the way it deals with complaints in order to provide a better service for consumers.