A complaint for every 6 solicitors last year in England

Here is an article from that most excellent of newspapers, England’s The Guardian, which notes that:

  • the Law Society received 17,074 complaints, one for every six solicitors in England and Wales last year;
  • that was up 14% on 2002;
  • a third of people think they receive poor service from their solicitor;
  • a quarter of those surveyed think their solicitor doesn’t listen to their opinion;
  • a third don’t feel they are told enough about how much they will be charged;
  • more than half the people surveyed said they received no pre-estimate of fees at all; and
  • only about a quarter said they got one in writing.

Costs disputes in England apparently progress through firms’ internal dispute resolution mechanisms, to the Consumer Complaints Service at the Law Society, and then, if the punter is so minded, for review by the Legal Ombudsman. The complaint form used is interesting. It seeks the details of the complainant and the subject of the complaint and says “Please tell us the name and address of the solicitor you are complaining about and briefly state your complaint. (We will contact you later for more details.)” next to a box the size of a postage stamp. That is a sensible approach. I have seen hundreds of complaints. Though Victoria’s regulators were required until recently to give reasonable assistance to complainants in formulating complaints, I do not believe they ever did so. I have seen a case where a man requested assistance and it was flatly denied.

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