The Office for Legal Complaints has appointed a police regulator and former justice charity boss to the new standalone post of chief ombudsman.
Kathryn Stone will join the organisation in January from her current post as a commissioner for the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Stone has been at the IPCC since July 2014 with responsibility for seven police forces in the north of England. She was previously the commissioner for victims and survivors in Northern Ireland.
The role of chief ombudsman was previously held in addition to the job of chief executive by Adam Sampson, who left last November.
The OLC has decided to restructure its management to have different people in the two positions, and has already appointed Nick Hawkins as new chief executive. It is expected Stone’s role will be to scrutinise complaints and how they are handled, on a salary up to £105,000 a year.
Stone said: ‘I’m looking forward to meeting with legal service providers and claims management companies to hear their views about how we continue to improve standards for clients.’
For 11 years, Stone was also chief executive of Voice UK, a charity supporting people with learning diabilities and other vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.
Steve Green, chair of the OLC, added: ‘The board were extremely impressed by her track record of strong leadership and independence and we all very much look forward to working with her.’
She will have her work cut out for sure:- timeliness declined from June, when over 57% of cases were resolved within 90 days, to 49% in August and September.
The LSB – which in June invoked statutory monitoring powers because of concerns that LeO’s targets were at risk of not being met then and in the future – set a target of 60%.
LeO is also failing to meet its target for the unit cost of complaints, set by the LSB at £1,750. This was £1,709 in June but increased over the summer to £1,770, before rising to £1,865 in September.
The measure for the quality of complaints handling declined from 61% in August to 58% in September.
It remains to be seen how her experience working for a criminal justice charity and the IPCC will give her an insight into complaints about lawyers, but being a non lawyer appears to be a key qualification for the job so that consumers have no concerns about bias.Disclaimer: The information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is for information purposes only. No responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the information and commentary or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. The article was written on the date shown and may not represent the law as it stands subsequently. For the avoidance of doubt, the views in this article are personal to the author and not attributable to any other individual or organisation.