Legal Ombudsman cuts spending after caseload falls again

Topics: Regulation and compliance

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (20)
  • Save

Related images

  • Stephen Green

The Legal Ombudsman will reduce spending by a further £500,000 in the next financial year as the number of cases continues to fall.

Legal expenditure by the complaints-handler is due to be set at £11.7m for the 2016/17 year, down from £12.2m in the current year.


The spending level is almost 30% lower than the £16.7m spent in the 2012/13 financial year.

In a consultation on spending plans released today, the ombudsman said it has seen ‘significant and sustained’ reductions in the volume of complaints across almost all areas of legal activity.

In 2012/13, the service dealt with 7,360 cases, which rose to 8,055 the following year. In 2016/17 the anticipated caseload is set to be around 6,500.

Steve Green (pictured), chair of the Office for Legal Complaints, said cost savings will be made despite substantial change in the organisation in the last year, with the management structure redesigned and a new IT system introduced.

‘With legal services having to innovate more than ever before to ensure that people still have access to justice, it is right that we should do our bit to keep costs low while maintaining the quality of our service,’ he added.

The ombudsman started accepting complaints about claims management companies last year and is expected to deal with around 2,000 cases of this sort in 2016/17. Expenditure, which is paid for by CMCs, will rise from £2m to £2.1m and will continue to be ring-fenced from spending related to law firms.

To cover the legal spending, solicitors will contribute £10.7m in levies, with the remaining £1m coming from case fee income.

Staff levels will be reduced during 2015/16 through ‘natural turnover’, the consultation added.

The ombudsman confirmed the Ministry of Justice assumed accounting officer status throughout 2015/16 following the departure of the previous chief ombudsman and chief executive officer Adam Sampson. It is unclear whether this will continue next year.

The consultation will remain open until the end of this month.

Readers' comments (20)

  • You would have thought that the author of this piece would have seen quite clearly the abundant NEED and relevance for them to have also posted up on here the actual complaint figures for 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. Seen as the whole article is about a supposed reduction in LeO complaints. A waste of time merely giving us just half a picture.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So, that's £1,800 per case...

    Even for a private practice firm this would be expensive - but for a quango with no profit requirement this sort of figure per case is absolutely shocking...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There is a pressing need for rationalisation of the different bodies which regulate legal services. The five existing bodies could be slimmed down to two: the Law Society plus a regulatory body with a complaints remit.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Spot on James. Increase in fees whilst reduction in complaints - "con"mprende ?.....Ironic we keep hearing claims/fraud epidemic, pandemic with few stats to back it up. Aviva ??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • An average of £1800 per case equates to 9 hours of grade A fee earner.

    In my experience the case handlers at the Ombudsman would struggle to make the grade for a good legal secretary.

    In terms of performance

    The Ombdsman came to the decision that there were 987 cases where a remedy was required in the year june 2014 - 2015, this equates toa cost per case where a remedy is required as c. £10,000.

    Is anyone else shocked by this

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We need to pull all these bodies stats to bits, like this. No doubt huge political links lurk somewhere.......

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So the LeO is scaling back due to a reduced caseload but at the same time the Competition and Markets Authority is launching an investigation into 'consumers' believing legal services are not value for money. Interesting.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The loss of legal aid is the only significant change in recent times that would explain this reduction so was it legal aid clients who were doing the complaining and thus badly paid legal aid firms doing the paying?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Lets face it most complaints are people trying to get out of paying bills.

    If those complaining had to either pay a fee up front and lost it if their complaint was not upheld or at least had to fork out £400 it was not upheld they would not complain in the first place.

    Instead we have to deal with complainants who do not want to pay and use the Ombudsman as a tool to get bills cut down or cancelled.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It's obviously the non-competitive nature of the market and the decline in standards of advocacy which has caused the fall in numbers.

    The Briggs proposal to cut out lawyers in claims under £25,000 will eliminate complaints altogether since the corporate clients can't use the system.

    You can see the strategy. Save the profession money by eliminating its workload in its entirety on the grounds that it's a cartel populated by useless people so we don't need it. Then there won't need to be an LeO or an SRA.

    "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." I think that's the top line of government policy, seemingly endorsed by some members of the judiciary.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10per page20per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (20)
  • Save


Sign up for email news alerts

Daily Update. Keep abreast of the latest developments that affect the profession

Legal Services

Browse the magazine

Current Issue

The Gazette offers you up-to-the-minute national and international news, opinion, features, in-depth articles plus a jobs and appointments section.

Please click the link below for a digital edition