The Legal Services Regulatory Authority Independent Complaints Handling Report, April 2024 | Fieldfisher
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The Legal Services Regulatory Authority Independent Complaints Handling Report, April 2024

Aisling Ray



The Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 (the "2015 Act") requires the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (the "LSRA") to publish a report every six months detailing the operation of its complaints function in respect of legal practitioners, both solicitors and barristers. The most recent Independent Claims Handling Report was published on 26 April 2024 containing a detailed analysis of the 637 complaints received by the LSRA for the period 2 September 2023 to 1 March 2024.

Key Figures

  • Out of all the complaints received, 607 related to solicitors and only 30 related to barristers.
  • A total of 796 complaints were closed during this period.
  • 64 complaints were resolved in the pre-admissibility process by way of early engagement.
  • 18 complaints were resolved with the assistance of LSRA trained mediators.

The Main Themes Identified

Of the 637 complaints received in this period, 60% related to alleged misconduct, 20% related to inadequate legal services, 2% to excessive costs, and 18% were a mix of two or three of these categories.


670 complaints arose in relation to misconduct which involved components such as: a failure to communicate (18%); alleged fraud or dishonesty (11%); failure to handover files/deeds/documents (9%); delay (9%); failure to account for clients' monies (7%); and conduct likely to the bring profession into disrepute (25%).

Inadequate Legal Services

239 complaints of inadequate legal services were made which related to six areas of law: litigation (34%); conveyancing (22%); family law (17%); probate (15%); crime (5%); and employment (>1%).

Excessive Costs

59 complaints relating to excessive costs were received by the LSRA which involving: litigation (42%); family law (27%); conveyancing (14%); and probate (14%).

Emergent Themes

The LSRA highlights three key issues that have emerged in its April 2024 report.

  • High Court enforcement of directions: In its previous reports, the LSRA highlighted that it was seeking to enforce compliance with directions issued by both its Divisional Complaints Committees or its Complaints and Resolutions Officers, where they have not been complied with. The LSRA now highlights its concerns that, in a limited number of cases, orders obtained in the High Court are still not being complied with by a limited number of legal practitioners. Where this has arisen the LSRA has re-entered proceedings and, to date, the LSRA has also made three applications seeking leave to issue applications for orders for attachment or committal due to this non-compliance.
  • Failure to handover files and documents: A frequent element seen in complaints received by the LSRA relates to the failure of a legal practitioner to transfer a client's file, title deeds or other documents to the client or another nominated legal practitioner, without good reason. In 2023, this was the third highest category of misconduct complaints received by the LSRA accounting for 11% of these complaints. The LSRA highlights that solicitors who ignore requests for documents to be transferred to clients or colleagues risk harming the wider reputation of the profession.
  • Benefit of early informal resolution of complaints: The LSRA seeks to encourage early informal resolution of consumer complaints relating to costs and inadequate legal services as this lies at the heart of the LSRA's complaints process. Where such complaints are found to be admissible, both parties are invited to take part in informal resolution. While the LSRA notes the increase in parties accepting the invitation to deal with a complaint in this way, it believes that the rate of engagement could be higher. The LSRA has employed mediators who are members of the Mediator's Institute of Ireland and who offer their services free of charge to complainants and legal practitioners to encourage this form of resolution. In the LSRA's experience the two-way communication engaged in as part of the mediation process can lead to a better understanding of the other parties’ position which can often be the key to resolving a complaint.


Parties were invited to take part in informal resolution in 134 complaints of excessive costs or inadequate legal services. Of these, 29 had no response from one or both parties and 57 were refused by one or both parties. 18 were resolved by the LSRA's mediators and 30 went to mediation but were not resolved and were accordingly considered and determined by the LSRA.

LSRA Complaints and Resolutions Officers made determinations in 82 complaints during the reporting period, with 54 complaints upheld and 28 not upheld. Directions issued to legal practitioners in respect of these complaints included directions to pay a total of €45,111 in compensation to their clients.

The Divisional Complaints Committee considered 164 complaints of alleged misconduct during the reporting period, with 7 being referred to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for further investigation and 16 complaints being upheld with directions to pay a total of €6,000 in compensation to clients, as well as orders for costs. 45 complaints were not upheld and 13 were resolved between the parties with 9 complaints being discontinued for a variety of reasons.

The LSRA issued a total of 15 pre-litigation letters to legal practitioners seeking their compliance with LSRA directions or determinations within a set time period, stating that failing to do so would result in an application made pursuant to Section 90 of the 2015 Act. 3 sets of proceedings pursuant to Section 90 of the 2015 Act issued in this period and there were 6 applications heard before the High Court. 4 of these applications concluded within the reporting period and all of the respondent legal practitioners, the subject of these proceedings, ultimately complied with the LSRA's directions.


An important aspect highlighted by the report is the non-engagement of legal practitioners, be it with the complaints process or subsequent non-compliance with directions issued by the LSRA, resulting in the LSRA taking High Court action to enforce these directions, as well the small number of instances where High Court orders for enforcement have been granted and the legal practitioners have still not complied with these orders.

CEO of the LSRA, Dr Brian Doherty notes that there is no benefit to be gained by a legal practitioner not complying with directions and orders made, and by not doing so they are simply putting the LSRA to further effort and expense and for the complainant they are adding to the mounting frustration they experience. Where the LSRA makes a determination in a complaint and issues a statutory direction, the legal practitioner should comply in a timely manner to avoid such further statutory action being necessary to enforce compliance.

The full report issued by the LSRA can be found here.

Written by: Aisling Ray and Olivia Butler

Areas of Expertise

Public and Regulatory