Regulation

Legal Ombudsman must take radical steps if performance is to improve

Changes made this year by the Legal Ombudsman service (LeO) are starting to show some signs of improvement, but the pace of change and performance levels remain a concern prompting solicitors’ leaders to warn LeO must take radical action – and fast – if they wish to retain the confidence of both public and profession.

“We welcome the hard work of the LeO’s new leadership team in addressing their challenges both internally and externally and they have been transparent about the difficulties they’ve faced this business year,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“We do, however, remain concerned about LeO’s performance levels and the fact the backlog of cases waiting to be investigated has increased again this year, despite a substantial increase in budget.

“Accordingly, LeO must take radical action, to increase the momentum of change. It must make better use of existing resources and budget as well as deliver a much-improved service for its customers.

“We would support legislative changes that would allow it to outsource or amend its Scheme Rules to help reduce the backlog, otherwise there could be reputational risks to the profession and a reduction in public confidence in the ombudsman scheme.

“LeO must definitively address the underlying causes of staff underperformance, as well as high sickness and attrition levels to ensure it keeps up with the demand for its service.

“We look forward to continuing to work with LeO to help address these issues in the coming year.”

Notes to editors

Read the Law Society’s response to the OLC’s business plan and budget 2022/23 consultation

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