England’s new Legal Ombudsman

The English spent £20 million on a new Legal Ombudsman who, since Thursday, has had power to issue fines of up to nearly $50,000.  He is the former director of a homeless shelter, Adam Sampson, pictured.  He is not a lawyer, but his wife is a barrister. This is his website.  And this — yes — is the Ombo’s blog.  And this is his branding: ‘Fair, open, effective, shrewd and independent’.  I hate lawyers’ absurd branding exercises (I was going to have business cards printed saying ‘Stephen Warne: Good, but Cheap’), but I like his. The Guardian‘s Afua Hirsch’s takes may be read here and Neil Rose’s here. Listen to this and learn Australia:

‘”We’re going to be inquisitorial,” she [Elizabeth France, Chairwoman of the Ombudsman’s office’s Board] says. “The ombudsman’s team will look at the evidence they’re presented with, ask any questions they need to ask and level up the playing field to the extent of helping to articulate a complaint, but they will be doing it in a way which is not bearing, I hope, any resemblance to the legal process.”

So there will not be lengthy to-ing and fro-ing between the parties, for example. Complaints will not stretch on for months (not that many do now, in fairness to the existing bodies). Miss a deadline and, unless the lawyer has a very good excuse for doing so, the ombudsman will make his decision without their input. The only remedy then will be judicial review.’

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