On 1 April 2023 we changed the time limits for referring a complaint to us in our Scheme Rules. This case study applies to complaints referred to the Legal Ombudsman before this date.

The complaint

Miss C instructed the firm to complete a house purchase in 2005.

In March 2012 when Miss C tried to sell this house, she discovered it was still registered to the previous owner.

She complained to the firm, saying their mistake had cost her an additional expense and delayed the sale of her property.

Miss C brought her complaint to us in August 2015.

The outcome

We determined that Miss C had not referred her complaint to us in time.

Our Scheme Rules before 1 April 2023 said we could look at complaints if you refer it to us:

- Within six years of the problem happening; or
- within three years of when you found out about it;


- You refer your complaint to us within six months of your service provider’s final response, if they warn you about this appropriately.

The time limits for cases referred to us before 1 April 2023 mean that Miss C would have needed to bring her complaint to us within three years of when she became aware of the issue.

Miss C found out about the issue in March 2012, but didn’t bring her complaint to us until August 2015, three years and five months later.

Although we may look at some complaints that are out of time, we can only do this if there are exceptional circumstances for doing so. In this case Miss C accepted she had no reason for referring her complaint to us late, so we dismissed Miss C’s complaint.