15 July 2020
The Office for Legal Complaints today published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20.
Throughout the year the Legal Ombudsman has worked hard to provide better standards of service for both consumers and legal service providers Improvements were seen in the time it took to investigate and ensuring that people were not left waiting for Ombudsman decisions at the end of the process. However, even though it improved over the year, the time it took for people’s investigations to begin was too long. This meant that, overall, people had to wait longer than they should for an answer from the Ombudsman.
This business year finished in the most extraordinary way due to the coronavirus pandemic. During what was a challenging time, the report notes that the Legal Ombudsman was able to smoothly transfer to home working, keeping its contact centre open throughout.. The pandemic meant that the OLC Board decided to request a standstill budget for the year 2020/21 rather than the planned for budget increase.
New Chair, Elisabeth Davies said “Since joining the OLC in April 2020 my focus has been on ensuring that I and the Board fully understand the issues facing the organisation that have, and continue to prevent the Legal Ombudsman from making further improvements. As the long-term impact of coronavirus becomes clearer LeO will need to consider how effectively its processes and systems meet the continuing demand for its service, along with ensuring it has good and valued people, to deliver the quality of service that is necessary”. Chief Ombudsman Rebecca Marsh, who announced last month that she was stepping down as Chief Ombudsman to take up a new role, said ‘while it is clear that the overall performance of the Legal Ombudsman has not yet reached the levels we are seeking I am confident that the work completed to date provides strong foundations for future development’.
The full report for 2019/20 can be viewed here and the Annual Service Complaint Adjudicator’s Report 2019/20 can be viewed here.
Notes to Editors: 1. The Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales was set up by the Office for Legal Complaints under the Legal Services Act 2007. Independent and impartial, it investigates complaints and offers a free service to easily guide the public through the process of making complaints when they feel they have experienced poor service from regulated legal or claims management service providers. Its work goes above and beyond complaints by feeding back to service providers through courses, guidance documents and conferences. 2. Wanda Goldwag’s term as chair of the OLC finished on 31 March 2020. 3. Elisabeth Davies joined as chair on 1 April 2020. Elisabeth is also a Senior Independent Director at the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, a member of the Civil Justice Council and a former chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel. 4. Rebecca Marsh is due to leave the organisation to take up a new role in October 2020. 5. Residential conveyancing, family law, personal injury, wills and probate and litigation continue to be the most complained about areas of law at the Legal Ombudsman.