From 1st April 2023, the Legal Ombudsman is changing its scheme rules. This means that all law firms will be required to update their complaints policy in line with the new requirements.
What is changing?
The time limits for referring a complaint to the LeO will not be later than:
- one year from the date of the act or omission being complained about; or
- one year from the date when the complainant should have realised that there was cause for complaint.
Complainants will still need to contact the LeO within six months of their complaint being dealt with by their lawyer. ‘Late’ claims will be capable of being addressed if it is fair and reasonable to do so.
Solicitors still have eight weeks to deal with a complaint before it can be escalated to LeO.
‘Late’ claims will be capable of being addressed if it is fair and reasonable to do so.
Why is the LeO scheme changing?
The LeO says that cases over one year old have proven much more challenging in terms of gathering documentary evidence, and and the parties’ recollection of events.
The Ombudsman has also have had well-documented problems with backlogs, which this rule change may help to address.
What should you do?
- Where possible, inform current clients of the incoming LeO changes
- Make changes to your client communication and signposting documents – this includes updating your:
- client care letters
- complaints policy on your website
- any internal handbooks or policies that cite your firm complaints policy
- final decision letters