A view from the Head of CMCs
The Legal Ombudsman started to accept complaints about claims management companies at the end of January. This is the first time consumers of claims management companies have been able to access redress for service issues. We caught up with Simon Tunnicliffe, Head of Claims Management Companies, to see how the first full month of handling complaints went.
How did the launch go?
I think overall it was a success. After an extensive training period the CMC team were enthusiastic and keen to start. We opened our phone lines at 9am on the 28 January and started receiving enquiries straight away. We also received some positive media coverage, which highlights the benefits this new jurisdiction brings to consumers of claims management companies; particularly where they’ve not received the level of service they deserve.
Will CMC complaint handling impact on the current legal jurisdiction?
No, we’re running the claims management department under a completely separate jurisdiction, with a separate department, in order to minimise the impact on the legal jurisdiction and keep finances separate. So the staff that we’ve recruited will just deal with claims management complaints and there will be no cross-over or dual-case handling of legal firm and CMC complaints.
You haven’t been handling CMC complaints for very long, but what kind of complaints have you received so far in your first month?
We received around more than a thousand contacts in the first month. As we expected, the highest area of complaints are around financial products and services. We have also seen cases about personal injury. It is early days and a lot of contacts we have received are classed as ‘premature’, which means they haven’t complained to their claims management company in the first instance. But we are supporting these customers and guiding them on how they should complain, ensuring they give the service provider a fair opportunity to resolve the complaint. We have already seen a few cases where the CMC companies have resolved complaints directly with the consumer.
You’ve mentioned that you are committed to supporting the industry. In what way and when are you planning to start this?
We are committed to doing this and have already shared loads of information on our website. Our ‘Helping CMCs’ page provides important information to help CMCs. The industry pack outlines how CMCs can prepare for this new jurisdiction and work with us to resolve complaints. It also has information on there about how they need to signpost their consumers to us for any service issues.
As well as this we have started to produce a range of short webinars for the profession. You can watch them here http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/helping-cmcs/#webinar.
How can CMCs prepare?
As I’ve said we have produced an industry pack, which is available on our website. This has all of the relevant information about how to signpost to us and outlines the responsibilities of claims management companies and the Legal Ombudsman. However, if you still have a question for a member of our team then please get in touch on CMCenquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?I guess I would like to take the opportunity to encourage people to spread awareness of our scheme and the potential benefits that it can bring to consumers and the CMC industry. This is a really positive step forward in respect of improving the reputation of the profession and providing redress for consumers who have received poor service. We are committed to making this a success and helping as many people as we can. For more information visit our website www.legalombudsman.org.uk/cmc.