A report suggests that complaints against lawyers are falling, but in our view this is a sign that lawyers’ complaints processes are improving, leading to fewer complaints being taken to the Ombudsman.
Problems around the house-buying process led the league table of complaints about the legal profession for the third year running.
Residential conveyancing, which is predominantly conducted by high street solicitors’ firms, clocked up about 20 per cent of all complaints to the Legal Services Ombudsman in 2015-16. But the number in that field was slightly down on the previous year.
The next highest single category of complaints involved family law cases, which accounted for slightly less than 15 per cent of the total.
However, family law complaints have dropped considerably over the past four years. In 2012-13 they formed nearly 20 per cent of the total.
The ombudsman’s report showed that personal injury cases and general litigation were the two remaining significant causes of complaints. Overall, the number of complaints against lawyers of all types sunk to its lowest level since the ombudsman opened for business in 2010.
Over the past year the ombudsman’s office accepted 7,033 cases for investigation, down from more than 8,300 in 2012-13.
The watchdog reported that its budget fell for the fifth year running, down by nearly 5 per cent over the last year, from £12.2 million to £11.6 million. According to a statement from the ombudsman, that fall reflected “ongoing efficiency improvements across the business”.