Not eye to eye on SCB

I would like to comment on the claim in your story 'Mears cites Barnes over SCB dispute' (The Lawyer 3 October) that I am supporting the president of the Law Society in his efforts to bring the Solicitors Complaints Bureau "in-house".

While it is true that we both agree that the Law Society should take back most of the bureau's purely regulatory functions under its direct control, and that there needs to be a change in the "complaints culture" so solicitors adopt a more commercial approach to settling complaints and try to produce a satisfied client wherever possible, we are saying different things about the nature of the complaints body which should succeed the SCB.

I am proposing that the new complaints body (which could still be called the Solicitors Complaints Bureau or possibly the Solicitors Services Bureau) should be as independent of the Law Society as possible and should be managed by a supervisory board with a majority of lay members and a lay chairperson.

Mr Mears, on the other hand, is proposing that complaints should be dealt with by the Law Society itself in the shape of a Law Society Client Care Unit.

I am anxious that this fundamental difference between what we are proposing should not be overshadowed by the areas of agreement which, though significant, are less important than the different views we take about the future of complaints handling.

Michael Barnes

Legal Services Ombudsman

Oxford Street


One step too far