Decisions made about legal service providers

We publish data on all complaints that have been resolved by an ombudsman’s final decision.

On this page you can view case summaries and information relating to final decisions made. On occasion, we also highlight concerns to the public about service providers as a public interest case.

Ombudsman decision data

Our Board, (the Office for Legal Complaints) is empowered to publish information on ombudsman decisions by the Legal Services Act 2007. Our Board has instructed the Legal Ombudsman to do this on its website. The information we publish is a simple and transparent record of decisions made by the Legal Ombudsman.

This approach is consistent with government policy which requires organisations such as ours to publish information of this type. It is also consistent with the approach taken by other Ombudsman schemes.

The data is published in accordance with our Publishing Decisions policy.

This policy statement summarises how we approach the publication of decisions, how we will use this information to raise standards and how we will monitor and review the publishing decisions policy.

Publishing Decisions policy statement

This data displays details of legal service providers that have received an ombudsman’s decision made between 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.

View datatable View decisions data file (.csv)

Public interest cases

This is where you’ll find detailed reports on cases where there has been a pattern of complaints or set of individual circumstances that have resulted in an ombudsman decision(s) that indicate it is in the public interest that the service provider should be named.

Our Board decided to publish the names of these service providers following extensive consultation.

Please note that this data is from the Legal ombudsman records only. To find out more about service providers you will need to approach them directly or contact the relevant approved regulator.

Our performance - KPIs 2016-17

Key performance indicators are quantifiable measures and targets that we use to demonstrate how effectively we are working, which ensure we are providing a high quality service to all our customers.

We publish our key performance indicators (KPI) on a quarterly and yearly basis. The five areas that our performance will be measured against are:

  • Timeliness
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Impact

Please click on the tabs below to view an overview of information about each of our KPIs.

Strategic objective: Resolve complaints quickly and with minimum formality

We aim to resolve cases as quickly and fairly as possible. We measure the time taken from when we identify a case is within our jurisdiction to the point at which we resolve it.

The time it takes to resolve a case depends to a large extent on the parties to the complaint. If a case can be resolved informally, it tends to take less time than if a longer investigation or an ombudsman’s decision is required.

2016-17 2017-18 Q1 2017-18 Q2
 Cases resolved Target Actual Target Actual Target Actual
60% of cases within 90 days 60% 46% 60% 48% 60% 41%
90% of cases within 180 days 90% 84% 90% 70% 90% 78%
100% cases within 365 days 100% 99.5% 100% 99.5% 100% 98%

We start counting the Timeliness KPI from the point at which we identify a case is within our jurisdiction. Because of the way we measure this KPI the data about our performance will only be available  90, 180 and 365 days after the end of the month in which the complaint was agreed.

The timeliness KPI is to achieve our target for every month, not just on average across the year, so we report on this on a monthly basis. We report the last available result by the month in which each measure is first complete. (for example: April’s 90 day target shows the percentage of cases resolved that were accepted in January – i.e. 90 days previously. April’s 180 day target shows the percentage of cases resolved that were accepted in September i.e. 180 days previously, and April’s 365 day target shows the percentage of cases resolved that were accepted the previous April – i.e. 365 days previously.)

 Timeliness 2016-17 Apr May June Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
Resolve 60% of cases within 90 days 45% 47% 51% 48% 54% 49% 44% 43% 47% 50% 47% 46%
Resolve 90% of cases within 180 days 89% 87% 83% 81% 83% 87% 85% 88% 85% 80% 78% 80%
Resolve 100% of cases within 365 days 99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 99% 99% 99% 99%

Strategic objective: Offer a professional, high quality service that responds to the needs of individual customers

Delivering a high-quality service is of fundamental importance to us. It is what matters most to our customers and stakeholders. We are committed to improving the standard and consistency of our work. We have subsequently put in place a quality framework that specifies and reinforces the standards that we set ourselves. It helps us monitor and evaluate our performance; identifying areas where we can improve.

As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we undertook research to get a more sophisticated understanding of our customers’ experiences, needs and expectations. Our customers are both complainants and service providers. This research provided a focused and robust evidence base that enabled us to develop a set of customer-led service principles, which are linked to our values Effective, Fair, Independent and Open. They are underpinned by service standards and behaviours. Our principles are:

  • We will always be clear with you
  • We will be understanding and approachable
  • We will make good use of everyone’s time
  • We will be impartial, thorough and base our work on facts
  • We will make a difference

At present our main external quality measure is taken from our independent customer satisfaction survey, where we survey our customers at the end of the process. Currently satisfaction survey results provide us with important feedback from our customers – both people who complain about legal services and service providers in our jurisdiction – from which we are able to track and monitor our performance.

Our KPI in this area changed in 2016-17. We worked with the LSB to develop this KPI, which more accurately reflects satisfaction with our service.

2016-17 Q1
(Apr – Jun)
Q2
(July – Sept)
Q3
(Oct – Dec)
Q4
(Jan – March)
Overall
% of complainants and lawyers satisfied with the service they received, irrespective of case outcome (must not fall below 40% in any quarter) 58% 55% 62% 66% 60%
2017-18 Q1
(Apr – Jun)
Q2
(July – Sept)
Q3
(Oct – Dec)
Q4
(Jan – March)
Overall
% of complainants and lawyers satisfied with the service they received, irrespective of case outcome (must not fall below 40% in any quarter) 57% 52%

Strategic objective: Provide a value for money service that uses best practice from other ombudsman schemes

Our cost KPI includes two aspects: the investigation cost is the cost of the Resolution Centre divided by the number of cases we resolve within the same period. We’re also committed to contain our overall expenditure levels within the agreed annual budget.

Period 2016-17 Cost (000) Cases resolved Cost per Investigation
Year ending 31 March 2017 £5,237 6,839 £772
April – December 2016 £3,954 5,063 £788
April – September 2016 £2,717 3,270 £834
April – June 2016 £1,326 1,537 £863
Period 2017-18 Cost (000) Cases resolved Cost per Investigation
Year ending 31 March 2018
April – December 2017
April – September 2017 £2,908 3,260 £893
April – June 2017 £1,405 1,544 £910

Strategic objective: Build credibility and openly share best practice with stakeholders

During 2012 / 2013 we began receiving and publishing the results of an independent survey of satisfaction levels among our customers (consumers and lawyers). This survey includes an indicator for how many of those who have had contact with us would recommend us to others. It also includes an indicator for how well we worked with our stakeholders.

We will publish the results of this survey on an annual basis.

We will provide two measures of our reputation and this information is derived from consumer and lawyer satisfaction levels based on their responses to the following questions:

Advocacy: % of respondents who are satisfied with the outcome of their case and would speak highly of LeO without being asked / if asked.

Source: As part of our customer satisfaction survey we ask:
Which of these statements comes closest to how you feel about the Legal Ombudsman?

  • I would speak highly of the Legal Ombudsman without being asked
  • I would speak highly of the Legal Ombudsman if asked
  • I would be neutral when speaking about the Legal Ombudsman
  • I would be critical of the Legal Ombudsman if asked
  • I would be critical of the Legal Ombudsman without being asked
Reputation Indicator 2016-17
Percentage of respondents who are satisfied with the outcome of their case and would speak highly of LeO without being asked / if asked. Complainants: 83%
Lawyers: 51%

Strategic objective: Seek to promote the regulatory objectives of the Legal Services Act 2007 in such a way as is compatible with our primary role

Awareness: % of users of legal services in the last two years that have heard of the Legal Ombudsman

Source: As part of our annual awareness survey we ask:
‘Have you personally used and paid for a legal service in the past 2 years?’
‘Before today, had you heard of the Legal Ombudsman?’

Reputation Indicator: Percentage of users of legal services in the last two years that have heard of the Legal Ombudsman

2016-17 60%

Prompt payment performance

From April 2015, the Government’s Prompt Payment Policy requires departments to publicise, on a quarterly basis, the percentage of their invoices that have been paid within 5 and 30 days respectively.

From April 2016, it will also be a requirement that departments publish figures of all liable interest under the late payment legislation.

Financial year 2017/2018 Percentage of invoices paid within 5 days Percentage of invoices paid within 30 days Total amount of liable to pay
Quarter 1 16% 95% 0
Quarter 2 6% 88% 0
Quarter 3
Quarter 4

 

Financial year 2016/2017 Percentage of invoices paid within 5 days Percentage of invoices paid within 30 days Total amount of liable to pay
Quarter 1 13% 95% 0
Quarter 2 10% 97% 0
Quarter 3 7% 96% 0
Quarter 4 8% 95% 0

Complaints data 2016-17

In this section you will find some data about complaints we have handled from 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017. We collate and publish complaints data on an annual basis. The data is split into the categories listed below:

  • Who complained to us?
  • Which people or organisations made a complaint?
  • Who was complained about?
  • Volume of complaints by area of law?
  • What were the areas of law by regulator?
  • What were the complaints about?
  • What were the complaints about by regulator?
  • What was the remedy type?
  • What was the resolution method?

Click on the tabs below to view the data as graphs.

Please note: Certain historic data will be updated for cases which may be reopened for further investigation and reclosed at a later date. We do not restate data to reflect this as the effect of this is not significant. Where nets and other results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to multiple responses, computer rounding or the exclusion of don’t knows/not stated.

Who complained to us?

Under the Equality Act 2010, we are required to collate data about those individuals who have made a complaint. The data we collect is analysed to ensure that we do not have a negative effect on the different equality groups. We will report on this data on an annual basis. This data (shown below) is only for those individuals who provide this information to us so the sample size is smaller.

The graphs below show who has made a complaint by *ethnicity, *religion, *gender, *sexual orientation and *impairment.

*Figures based on those who agreed to provide their Equality and Diversity information.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for the CSV version of this data, (document opens in a new window).

Which people or organisations made a complaint?

The graph below shows who has made a complaint, for example a trustee, beneficiary or member of the public. These categories are set out in the Legal Services Act 2007.

 

Click here for the CSV version of this data, (document opens in a new window).

Who was complained about?

The complaints we investigate are about a variety of lawyers who each have their own regulator; for example the Bar Standards Board, Solicitors Regulation Authority or Council for Licensed Conveyancers. The graph below shows the percentage of complaints we have received about lawyers under each regulator where we have received a complaint.

 

Click here for the CSV version of this data. (document opens in a new window).

Volume of complaints by area of law

The graph below shows the volume of complaints we received by area of law; for example, whether people complained to the Legal Ombudsman about a family law issue, a personal injury matter or about a will.

You can see a quarterly breakdown for each sector in the CSV file.

 

Click here for the CSV version of the data, (document opens in a new window).

What were the areas of law by regulator?

The CSV file below shows the number of complaints we received by area of law and regulator type, for example, whether people complained to the Legal Ombudsman about a family law issue, a personal injury matter or about a will.

Click here for the CSV version of the data table, (document opens in a new window).

What were the complaints about?

The table shows what the complaints were about by area of law, for example excessive costs or failure to advise.

Potential Misconduct Costs excessive Costs information deficient Data protection / breach of confidentiality Delay/Failure to progresd Discrimination Failure to advise Failure to follow instructions Failure to investigate complaint internally Failure to keep informed Failure to keep papers safe Failure to release files or papers Failure to reply Other Criminal activity Failure to comply with agreed remedy
Commercial Conveyancing 0.02% 0.02% 0.02% 0.00% 0.27% 0.00% 0.33% 0.17% 0.00% 0.12% 0.02% 0.02% 0.10% 1.95% 0.00% 0.00%
Commercial law 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.10% 0.00% 0.07% 0.17% 0.00% 0.02% 0.00% 0.02% 0.02% 1.89% 0.00% 0.00%
Consumer Law 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 7.69% 0.00% 0.00%
Crime 0.10% 0.10% 0.10% 0.03% 0.92% 0.02% 1.18% 1.52% 0.09% 0.56% 0.19% 0.46% 0.41% 5.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Employment Law 0.02% 0.02% 0.02% 0.02% 0.65% 0.00% 1.01% 0.62% 0.03% 0.45% 0.03% 0.09% 0.26% 5.58% 0.00% 0.02%
Family Law 0.17% 0.17% 0.17% 0.09% 2.26% 0.02% 2.65% 2.74% 0.14% 0.96% 0.26% 0.45% 0.75% 3.79% 0.00% 0.02%
Finances 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.19% 0.00% 0.22% 0.14% 0.02% 0.07% 0.00% 0.02% 0.05% 1.72% 0.00% 0.00%
Immigration and Asylum 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.03% 0.72% 0.00% 0.74% 0.89% 0.03% 0.41% 0.05% 0.22% 0.39% 2.78% 0.00% 0.00%
Litigation 0.07% 0.07% 0.07% 0.05% 2.02% 0.02% 2.04% 1.90% 0.14% 0.77% 0.09% 0.36% 0.50% 4.05% 0.00% 0.00%
Other 0.02% 0.02% 0.02% 0.03% 0.60% 0.00% 0.36% 0.27% 0.07% 0.21% 0.10% 0.09% 0.09% 3.51% 0.00% 0.00%
Personal Injury 0.19% 0.19% 0.19% 0.12% 3.95% 0.00% 2.05% 2.17% 0.15% 2.00% 0.14% 0.41% 1.28% 4.83% 0.00% 0.00%
Property 0.02% 0.02% 0.02% 0.03% 1.03% 0.00% 0.92% 1.08% 0.05% 0.41% 0.19% 0.17% 0.34% 2.52% 0.00% 0.00%
Residential Conveyancing 0.07% 0.07% 0.07% 0.19% 4.76% 0.00% 4.52% 3.27% 0.31% 2.09% 0.15% 0.33% 1.52% 3.80% 0.02% 0.00%
Social Welfare 0.09% 0.09% 0.09% 0.05% 0.39% 0.00% 0.33% 0.45% 0.07% 0.15% 0.02% 0.09% 0.19% 3.16% 0.00% 0.00%
Wills and Probate 0.15% 0.15% 0.15% 0.05% 3.36% 0.00% 1.61% 1.69% 0.17% 1.58% 0.34% 0.39% 0.96% 4.19% 0.02% 0.02%
Grand total 0.91% 8.90% 7.38% 0.70% 21.23% 0.05% 18.04% 17.09% 1.27% 9.79% 1.58% 3.10% 6.87% 3.97% 0.03% 0.05%

 

Click here for the CSV version of the data table, (document opens in a new window).

What were the complaints about by regulator?

The table shows what the complaints were about by regulator type, for example excessive costs or failure to advise.

Costs excessive Costs information deficient Delay/Failure to progress Failure to advise Failure to comply with agreed remedy Failure to investigate complaint internally Failure to follow instructions Failure to keep papers safe Failure to keep informed Failure to reply Failure to release files or papers Data protection Other Potential misconduct
Bar Standards Board 9.95% 3.48% 14.93% 24.38% 0.00% 0.50% 27.36% 1.00% 4.48% 4.98% 2.99% 0.50% 3.98% 1.49%
Chartered institute of Legal Executives 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Council for Licensed Conveyancers 3.49% 2.33% 36.63% 20.93% 0.00% 0.58% 13.37% 0.58% 10.47% 7.56% 0.58% 0.00% 3.49% 0.00%
Costs Lawyer Standards Board 0.00% 0.00% 25.00% 25.00% 0.00% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00% 25.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Solicitors Regulation Authority 9.05% 7.69% 20.99% 17.73% 0.05% 1.32% 16.83% 1.63% 9.97% 6.92% 3.19% 0.73% 2.97% 0.92%
Intellectual Property Regulation Board 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
The Notaries Society 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 100.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Grand Total 8.91% 7.39% 21.25% 18.06% 0.05% 1.27% 17.10% 1.58% 9.80% 6.87% 3.10% 0.70% 3.02% 0.91%

*initial complaint types used to populate this data

Cilex has 2 complaints but thei nitial complaint field is not recorded if asked we can provide information

Click here for the CSV version of the data table, (document opens in a new window).

What was the remedy type?

A remedy is what an ombudsman may tell a lawyer or law firm to do if they decide that they haven’t handled the original complaint in a satisfactory manner. Remedies can include the ombudsman giving instructions to issue an apology, give back documents, do more work to put things right, refund or reduce legal fees, or pay compensation.

The table shows the method of resolving complaints. For example, the ombudsman can instruct the lawyer or law firm to apologise to the person who complained, put things right, pay compensation or put things in place to make sure the problem does not happen again.

Informal Ombudsman Grand Total
Total % Total % Total %
No remedy 480 24.38% 1489 76.62% 1969 100.00%
Other 100.00%
To apologise 125 79.61% 32 20.38% 157 100.00%
To complete work for the complainant 77 92.77% 6 7.23% 83 100.00%
To improve procedures to prevent the problem happening again 20 100.00% 0 0.00% 20 100.00%
To limit fees to a specified amount 50 68.49% 23 31.51% 73 100.00%
To pay a specified amount for expenses the complainant incurred in pursuing the complaint. 21 84.00% 4 16.00% 25 100.00%
To pay compensation for emotional impact and/or disruption caused 1082 57.68% 794 42.32% 1876 100.00%
To pay compensation of a specified amount for loss suffered 206 60.06% 137 39.94% 343 100.00%
To pay for someone else to complete the work 13 52.00% 12 48.00% 25 100.00%
To pay interest on compensation 3 50.00% 3 50.00% 6 100.00%
To pay interest on monies held 8 100.00% 0.00% 8 100.00%
To refund fees already paid 388 67.24% 189 32.76% 577 100.00%
To return papers 73 78.49% 20 21.51% 93 100.00%
To take (and pay for) any specified action in the interests of the complainant 42 70.00% 18 30.00% 60 100.00%
To waive unpaid fees 251 64.03% 141 35.97% 392 100.00%

 

Click here for the CSV version of the data table, (document opens in a new window).

What was the resolution method?

The table shows the resolution method by area of law. It shows how we resolved complaints; for example, if complaints were closed*, if they were resolved informally or went through to an ombudsman decision.

Closed Informal Ombudsman Total % Total
% Total % Total % Total
Commercial Conveyancing 36.90% 31 23.81% 20 39.29% 33 100.00% 84
Commercial law 23.08% 12 26.92% 14 50.00% 26 100.00% 52
Consumer Law 20.00% 1 40.00% 2 40.00% 2 100.00% 5
Crime 32.32% 138 17.80% 76 49.88% 213 100.00% 427
Employment Law 25.50% 64 21.91% 55 52.59% 132 100.00% 251
Family Law 29.29% 263 30.07% 270 40.65% 365 100.00% 898
Finances 38.46% 30 28.21% 22 33.33% 26 100.00% 78
Immigration and Asylum 23.97% 58 27.27% 66 48.76% 118 100.00% 242
Litigation 28.13% 182 24.42% 158 47.45% 307 100.00% 647
Other 31.67% 38 26.67% 32 41.67% 50 100.00% 120
Personal Injury 25.24% 240 40.48% 385 34.28% 326 100.00% 951
Property 25.08% 78 33.76% 105 41.16% 128 100.00% 311
Residential Conveyancing 23.27% 369 47.23% 749 29.51% 468 100.00% 1586
Social Welfare 20.00% 30 34.67% 52 45.33% 68 100.00% 150
Wills and Probate 26.07% 201 42.93% 331 31.00% 239 100.00% 771
Grand Total 26.40% 1735 35.55% 2337 38.05% 2501 100.00% 6573

*Closed cases include:

  • Complaints that were withdrawn by the person who complained
  • The person that complained did not make any further contact despite our follow up
  • Complaints which are closed under our scheme rules. Our scheme rules set out the framework for how we resolve complaints about legal services.

Click here for the CSV version of the data table, (document opens in a new window).

How do we put things right?

We prefer to resolve complaints by brokering an agreement between the Service Provider and the complainant. Therefore, our investigators attempt to settle complaints as amicably as they can, while bringing both parties (both the lawyer and the client) to a swift and mutually beneficial resolution. We call this “informal resolution”.

Where an informal resolution cannot be reached, either party may ask an ombudsman to make a final decision. At this stage the resolution will be based less on resolving the complaint amicably and more on what is deemed fair and reasonable.

In the majority of cases it is the complainant who requests a decision by an ombudsman. This is consistent with some evidence from other ombudsman schemes that there has been an increase in complainants’ propensity to pursue their complaints as far as possible. It may also reflect an increase in the number of lawyers offering reasonable remedies at the first tier which, if true, is a positive development. Nevertheless, we will continue to work at brokering more informal resolutions moving forward.

In our view, these figures suggest that complainants do as well when accepting an investigator’s recommendation and opt for an informal resolution as they do when insisting on an ombudsman’s decision. While lawyers might be tempted to hold out for an ombudsman decision, they should factor in the additional time and resource they will have to put into managing the complaint and accept that the customer is likely to walk away feeling even less positive about their firm with the increased risk to their reputation that this entails.

This year:

  • 36.8% of ombudsman decisions resulted in a financial remedy between £1- to £299.
  • 33.02% of ombudsman decisions resulted in a financial remedy of between £300 and £999.
  • 19.67% of ombudsman decisions resulted in a financial remedy of between £1000 and £4,999.
  • 8% of ombudsman decisions resulted in a financial remedy of between £5,000 and £19,999
  • 2.6% of ombudsman decisions resulted in a financial resulted in a remedy  £20,000 and above

Please note: Certain historic data will be updated for cases which maybe reopened for further investigation and reclosed at a later date. As a result the total of each quarter may not match the total.