MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
News Release (Issued on behalf of the Office of the Legal Services
Complaints Commissioner) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 4
Issued on behalf
of the Office of the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner
The Law Society and the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner
are pleased to announce a range of client care measures costing
£275,000, which are designed to boost capability and capacity to
deal with clients in the solicitors' profession.
In June 2008 the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner, Zahida
Manzoor CBE, announced that she would be imposing a penalty of
£275,000 on the Law Society following her decision to declare the
complaints handling plan submitted by the Legal Complaints Service
The Commissioner and the Law Society have been discussing ways
forward, considering in particular measures to improve client
care. Today (4 March 2009), the Commissioner and the Law Society
are pleased to announce that they have reached a regulatory
settlement with the monies devoted to a range of measures
primarily aimed at improving client care by solicitors.
The measures agreed by the Commissioner include the Law Society
committing £100,000 to establish a consultancy service, which,
when rolled out will look to support around 200 solicitors'
firms who have been identified as most in need of client care assistance.
The aim of the consultancy service is to provide support and
information on best practice in client care and complaints
handling and evaluate and monitor firms' progress as they
implement the necessary changes. The Society will also launch a
client care and complaints handling helpline as part of its
existing helpline services.
The Commissioner said:
"I am very pleased that I have been able, with the Law
Society, to find a pragmatic solution to ensure that the money
from the penalty, that would otherwise have not been made
available for complaints handling, is being used to assist the
profession and will ultimately benefit the consumer. This can only
be seen as good news."
Des Hudson, Law Society Chief Executive, said: "We are
pleased that the Commissioner has accepted proposals from the
Society to use the funds to promote diversity and excellence in
the profession and improve client care. The initiative will have
links to the existing and substantial range of Law Society
activities to broaden access to the profession and improve
standards of client care and complaints handling within the profession."
Another aspect of the agreement will provide additional funding
to the Solicitors' Diversity Access Scheme. With the support
of the Law Society Charity, the Solicitors' Diversity Access
Scheme is able to award scholarships to a number of students to
enable them to undertake courses leading to qualification as a
solicitor. The Law Society will make an additional £105,000 to
fund two additional places per year for five years.
Des Hudson, said: "The Society is extremely pleased that
alongside the Law Society charity we will be able to invest in the
future of new entrants to the profession, through the vehicle of
the Diversity Access Scheme. We know there are factors that can
stand in the way of talented individuals taking up a career in
law. With the support of this scheme we hope that individuals, who
would have otherwise struggled, can now break through. It is vital
that the solicitors profession embraces people from every kind of
background and experience."
The Commissioner commented:
"I am particularly pleased that the Diversity Access Scheme
enables those who otherwise would not be able to study to be a
solicitor realise their ambitions. This additional funding will
extend the Scheme further and mean ten deserving people will be
able to join the legal profession over the next five years."
The Law Society has also agreed to make quarterly reports to the
Commissioner to update her on progress and expenditure under the
programme of agreed measures. The first report will cover the
period ending 31 March 2009.
Notes to Editors
1. Ms Manzoor CBE was appointed Legal Services Complaints
Commissioner (the Commissioner) in February 2004 in addition to
her role as Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO). The Commissioner only
has powers in relation to the Law Society of England and Wales.
2. The roles of the LSO and the Commissioner are distinct. The
LSO examines the handling of individual complaints by the legal
professional bodies on behalf of members of the public. The
Commissioner examines the Law Society's capability to handle
complaints made about its members efficiently and effectively.
3. On 3 June 2008, the Commissioner announced that she would be
imposing a penalty of £275,000 on the Law Society following her
decision to declare its complaints handling Plan for the period 1
April 2008 to 31 March 2009 inadequate to secure the effective and
efficient handling of complaints.
4. The Commissioner and the Law Society have reached a regulatory
settlement, which has resulted in the sum of £275,000 being put
towards a range of measures. The Law Society has agreed to:
* Establish a Consultancy Service, costing £100,000 which will
involve the recruitment and training of 20 consultants nationally.
These consultants will work alongside the Solicitors Regulation
Authority to target around 200 firms it has identified need help
with client care and complaints handling.
* Set up a dedicated client care and complaints helpline, which
will involve taking over the Legal Complaints Service's
telephone helpline for solicitors (Lawyerline) and relocating it
to its very successful Helplines team, staffed by solicitors. It
has committed £30,000 to recruit additional resource, train the
existing team and launch the new complaints helpline.
* Make available an additional £105,000 to fund two additional
places per year over five years on its Diversity Access Scheme.
* Recruit a Client Care Project Manager at a cost of £40,000, who
will be responsible for overseeing the range of measures agreed,
providing project plans and reporting to the Commissioner on a
5. Additional background information on the measures is available
on the Commissioner's website at http://www.olscc.gov.uk
6. For more details and to apply for the Diversity Access Scheme
please visit http://juniorlawyers.lawsociety.org.uk/node/140
7. For media enquiries please contact
Melissa Davis, Law Society Press Office 020 73205811 email@example.com
Marie Craven at the OLSCC press office 0113 2615446. firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner
Zahida Manzoor CBE
- Impartiality - Transparency - Efficiency - Effective remedy
Appointed under the Access to Justice Act 1999 as an independent
regulator working with the Law Society on behalf of the consumer
to improve standards in complaints handling