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New obligations on lawyers to inform clients how to complain

Date:26 MAY 2010

David EdmondsThe Legal Services Board (LSB) has today announced that all approved regulators must ensure that the lawyers they regulate provide clear information to their clients both of their right to complain about the service they receive and the process for doing so.

The new requirements aim to ensure that consumers understand both their right to complain should a lawyer provide an unsatisfactory service, and if not resolved by the provider, their right to escalate the complaint to the new Legal Ombudsman. The requirements will come into force when the Legal Ombudsman's office opens in autumn.

The LSB is currently working with approved regulators, to ensure that consumer expectations on complaints-handling and signposting requirements are met. Approved regulators will need to monitor and enforce these requirements, as well as to have procedures in place to learn lessons from complaints handling to improve the regulatory framework more generally.

Chairman of the Legal Services Board, David Edmonds (pictured left), said: "Improving complaints-handling has been one of the key drivers of the reforms. It is essential that consumers have the information they need to identify whether they have a right to take their complaint to the Legal Ombudsman, and if so how to do it.

"The launch of the Legal Ombudsman, underpinned by action to improve firms' own handling of complaints and learn the lessons from them, should give consumers greater confidence in the speed and fairness of dispute resolution and so finally resolve an issue which has troubled the reputation of the sector for some time," Mr Edmonds added.