The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) today publishes the first of its bi-annual reports on complaints against solicitors and barristers, which shows that it received 636 complaints in the first five months of the new independent complaints handling regime. Today’s report is based on complaints since 7th October 2019 when the LSRA began receiving and investigating complaints against legal practitioners.
The report contains statistical data on complaints and early trends, including:
- During the 5 month period from 7th October 2019 to 6th March 2020, the LSRA’s Complaints and Resolutions Unit received a total of 636 complaints (633 relating to solicitors and 3 relating to barristers).
- A total of 342 complaints (54%) alleged misconduct, with 238 (37%) of complaints about alleged inadequate services and 56 (9%) relating to excessive costs (overcharging).
- A total of 187 complaints have been closed and a balance of 449 complaints remain under consideration by the LSRA.
- The Complaints and Resolutions Unit received a total of 1,884 phone calls and emails requesting information and/or complaint forms.
- Among the areas of legal services complained about were wills and probate, litigation, conveyancing and family law.
- A total of 14 complaints involved issues related to alleged criminal activity. The majority of these related to allegations made against what is suspected to be a bogus law firm. These were referred to An Garda Síochána.
- The Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 places informal complaints resolution at the heart of the new independent regime, and the LSRA’s qualified staff are affiliated to the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland.
- A total of 36 complaints were resolved informally at what is known as the pre-admissibility stage – that is before the LSRA makes a determination that a complaint is admissible.
- An overarching theme from the complaints received is the need for legal practitioners to communicate with their clients in a clear and timely fashion.
Today’s report highlights emerging themes in complaints and identifies areas where it may be possible to learn lessons and to raise standards. The report also includes anonymised case studies which are aimed at helping both consumers and legal service providers to learn from the LSRA’s examination of individual complaints.
The Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 requires the LSRA to publish a report on the operation of its complaints function every six months. The second complaints report for 2020 will be published in October.
The report is available to download below.