Office for Scant Service

The Annual report of the Legal Services Ombudsman, released this week, was far from complimentary about the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS). No surprises there. But Tulkinghorn was amazed by the true level of ineptitude.
Mrs A made a complaint to the OSS, and after much toing and froing received a letter three months later to say that the OSS could not deal with her complaint. “If they'd read her initial letter properly – or indeed at all – they could have told her that at the outset,” said the ombudsman.
But Mrs A's delay pales into insignificance when compared with that of Mr K, who had to wait two years before being told the OSS was unable to help him with his plight.
In Mrs C's case, meanwhile, the OSS was unsure whether the solicitor involved was employed by a firm or the magistrates court. But rather than call to find out, it promptly closed her case. (As it turned out, the solicitor concerned was employed by a firm; and surprise surprise, the case should indeed have been dealt with by the OSS.)
In a sensational understatement, the ombudsman concluded: “The obvious pressure on OSS caseworkers to close files in order to meet the targets agreed between the Law Society and the Lord Chancellor's Department can lead to some strange behaviour by the OSS.”