The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) has recently published its second report, which outlines that it received 605 complaints about solicitors and barristers between 7 March and 6 September 2020. Of those complaints received, 587 related to solicitors and only 18 to barristers.
The LSRA took over the role of dealing with complaints about solicitors from the Law Society in October 2019, and this is the second report it has published. The previous report detailed the receipt of 636 complaints in the five months preceding March 2020, with the number of complaints received since then slightly down on previous numbers.
Of the 605 complaints received by the LSRA's Complaints and Resolutions Unit:
- A total of 346 complaints (57%) related to alleged misconduct;
- With 213 (35%) complaints relating to alleged provision of inadequate legal services;
- A further 46 (8%) related to alleged excessive costs (overcharging);
- 169 complaints received during the period were closed, with 96 of these deemed inadmissible and 23 withdrawn;
- 50 complaints were resolved informally with the assistance of the LSRA during what is known as the pre-admissibility stage – that is before the LSRA makes a determination as to whether a complaint is admissible or not;
- 436 complaints remain under investigation.
The report indicates that a total of 1,271 phone calls and emails were received over the six-month period requesting information and/or complaint forms, with wills and probate, litigation, conveyancing and family law among the areas of legal services to which complaints related.
Poor communication between legal practitioners and clients is highlighted as a key feature of most grievances and the LSRA, as in its first report, again emphasised the importance of "clear and timely communication" by legal practitioners with both clients and colleagues.
Another theme identified by the LSRA report is complaints relating to alleged rudeness of legal practitioners, and the report indicates that a number of complaints alleging that a legal practitioner had behaved in a rude or insulting manner were received from members of the public as well as others who work in a court setting, such as expert witnesses and interpreters.
The report notes that behaving in such a way can have disciplinary consequences for a legal practitioner if the complaint is upheld, particularly where a pattern of this type of behaviour can be demonstrated. As a result of the rise in this type of complaint, the LSRA intends to address the issue of rudeness in more detail in its next bi-annual report.
The full report is available here.
Written by Zoe, Richardson, Aisling Ray and Dena Keane.
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