Office of Legal Complaints 2024/27 strategy and 2024/25 business plan – Law Society response

The Office of Legal Complaints (OLC) is consulting on its draft 2024/27 strategy and 2024/25 business plan and budget for the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) service.

The proposals

The strategy and business plan outline two main strategic objectives:

  • LeO resolves complaints fairly and effectively providing an excellent customer experience
  • LeO’s independent voice and experience lead to improvements in legal services

The OLC states the service objective reflects LeO’s commitment to resolve each complaint as informally as possible and at the earliest possible opportunity.

It includes LeO’s work to identify and make improvements to how it works, so it’s increasingly efficient and provides good value for money.

The OLC states the impact objective reflects LeO’s commitment to share its independent view of legal services – using the right platforms and channels to reach the people who need to know.

It includes making the outcomes reached by LeO more transparent, so they can help inform consumers’ decisions about choosing and using legal services.

Our view

We are pleased LeO has made inroads towards reducing the backlog of cases waiting for investigation in the Pre-Assessment Pool (PAP), not least because of its new early resolution process.

However, LeO continues to struggle to deliver on its primary statutory function of providing a speedy complaints resolution scheme.

The time taken to resolve cases remains a real concern as do the average customer journey times which are at unacceptable levels.

We are also concerned the reliability of the OLC’s forecasts and staff attrition rates.

LeO must continue to prioritise the reduction of the PAP, which in turn will reduce the customer waiting times for complaints to be resolved before greater focus is directed to other work.

The OLC is seeking an increase of almost 7% in LeO’s budget, with 5% being applied towards staff pay awards.

It also wishes to spend a part of its budget to fund a new team to support expanding a more strategic programme of engagement, learning and insight to help inform and influence the regulatory landscape.

The focus on recruitment and retainment must be on investigators, to reduce waiting times, and their training to ensure a competent service.

The greater the competency of its investigation staff, the more likely that complaints will be resolved quickly and informally.

What this means for solicitors

The customer journey time for resolving complaints currently is around seven to eight and a half months, which is too long.

Shortening wait times will reduce the total customer journey time to between three and five months for investigations.

This would be a significant step in providing a quick and informal ombudsman scheme for complaints resolution.

Next steps

The consultation closed on 22 December 2023.

The OLC will consider responses from all stakeholders before deciding whether it wishes to amend its plan before consideration by the Legal Services Board (LSB).

The final 2024/27 strategy and 2024/25 business plan and budget will be published in March 2024, following consideration by the LSB.

Read the consultation on the OLC website

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