A damning report on firms' complaints procedures has prompted the Solicitors Complaints Bureau to urge them to stop ignoring clients.

The statement comes in response to a Consumers' Association survey which revealed that 20 per cent of the firms which responded had no complaints procedure and 62 per cent did not tell their clients about the existence of the SCB.

“Solicitors must realise client care is not just a buzzword,” said an SCB spokeswoman.

“If complaints were sorted out at firm level, matters could be settled more quickly.”

The survey, made up of responses from 381 firms, also dealt a further blow to the credibility of the Law Society's approach to complaints handling.

Although solicitors did not believe the bureau was biased in favour of solicitors, with 42 per cent claiming the bureau favoured complainants, nearly one third said it should be completely independent of the Law Society.

Anthony Bogan, chair of the Solicitors Association, which advocates a separation of the Law Society's regulatory and representative functions, said: “Problems over complaints procedures are representative of the inherent conflict there is between the Law Society's two different roles.”