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Scheme rules and case fee structure call for evidence - Law Society response

31 January 2017

The Law Society has responded to the Legal Ombudsman's (LeO) call for evidence on its scheme rules and case fee structure.

We welcome the collaborative approach that the LeO has taken in reviewing its rules and we are pleased that our recommendations made in April 2016 have been considered.

We believe firms that use the LeO, and who have complaints that are upheld, should generally contribute more towards the cost of operating the LeO than those who do not. However, the threat of complaints being escalated to the LeO can act as an incentive for solicitors to settle complaints early even when the claim is unmerited.

We also believe the case fee structure should be more targeted. Consideration should be given to ensuring the fee is never greater than the amount charged for the work and there should be no fee - or a nominal fee - for pro bono work. Our response highlights the need to ensure the process is made as simple as possible to reduce the burden on solicitors engaging with the LeO.

The LeO is expected to consult on proposed changes to the scheme rules in early 2017. Any significant changes should be accompanied by both an equality impact assessment and a financial impact assessment. If proposals are likely to impose additional financial or administrative burdens on firms, these should be quantified so that stakeholders can provide informed opinions.

The LeO should carefully consider the impact of any proposals on small firms, which are particularly vulnerable to changes in fee arrangements.

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