Lay your complaints record bare, says legal watchdog

Topics: Regulation and compliance

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  • Elisabeth Davies

Law firms and sole practitioners will have to publish the ‘average cost’ of their services and regulators the full details of enforcement sanctions if recommendations by the sector’s consumer watchdog are taken up. 

In a report published today on opening data, the Legal Services Consumer Panel also says that restrictions on supplying data to legal comparison websites should be lifted. 

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According to the report, commissioned by the Legal Services Board, legal regulators are far behind’ those in other sectors in requiring the publication of information such as data on first-tier complaints.

It contrasts the multiple steps required to find information on a lawyer or firm with the new Financial Services Register. As a first step, it says basic information about a practitioner should be linked to ‘conduct and complaints data’ along the lines of the Bar Standards Board website. 

Publication of the volume and nature of first-tier complaints data ‘has the potential to improve market transparency and to aid consumers in making informed decisions’.

The panel admits that ‘there are challenges with price transparency’ and that ‘exact estimates may not always be possible’.

However it notes that ‘there is an arm of the profession, cost lawyers, dedicated to understanding and advising on legal cost’. Drawing on this expertise, providers ‘should give more accurate estimates’ and in the event these are exceeded, bear the additional cost. 

Elisabeth Davies (pictured), the panel’s chair, said in a statement: ‘More needs to be done to empower consumers and encourage them to make informed decisions. Information, simply presented, at the time of need, is one tool that can be used by legal services regulators.

‘We have seen this tool adopted in other sectors and although there are challenges, we hope regulators rise to the task and begin the journey towards more transparency, and effective engagement.’

Readers' comments (18)


  • This apparatchik clearly has no idea what she is talking about.

    eg. how is it useful to compare say a Sole Practitioner's complaints record against a firm with say 100 Solicitors?

    Ms Davies and her ridiculous organisation should be abolished PDQ.


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  • I think that the sooner they just have insurers doing all the legal work the better imho.

    Just make sure we don't have to pay run off.

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  • The report also suggests disclosing data on litigation outcomes. Really...! If I have a litigious client who wants to bring / defend a claim then so longs as I advise them properly regarding procedure , law, evidence and prospects of success then why should I then have to tell the outside world if they have won or lost? The public will only be interested with win and loss ratios not whether a claim was speculative or not? Don't get me wrong I love winning and hate losing but I am experienced enough to know that client's litigate for their own reasons sometimes unconnected with merits of a claim.

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  • 'Begin the journey towards transparency, and effective engagement.' ahhhh I do love vacuous management drivel.

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  • I hope and trust that a builder, mechanic, or other tradesman will provide a detailed estimate and bear any cost over runs.

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  • This transparency conflicts with client (sic) confidentiality!!

    New Advert:
    'Welcome to Sod it & Go Solicitors. They're talking about real legal problems...the contents of which are confidentiality but if you use us, we can say that our average charge is £x,000 based on similar cases' ... then at the conclusion "your advert said x when it cost y..."

    People call it transparency...I call it providing unrealistic, and potentially deceiving information the likes of which require a crystal ball and a plethora of disclaimers.

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  • I hope and trust the Legal Services Ombudsman will also have to make such disclosure.

    And whilst on the topic, how far have they gone with their enquiry into the expenses 'issues' as a result of which their former head left/was let go/dismissed?

    What's good for the goose...

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  • *confidential

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  • In many ways anonymous 11.45 is right though when we had articled clerks and I was one I was told that there was no winning and losing - only seeing that justice was done..

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  • Clearly the "Consumer Panel" does not live or work in the real world. They are not aware of the need for client confidentiality. It seems to be one "sound bite" after the other. The sooner the expensive quango known as the Consumer Panel is disbanded the better. And by the way, I act for clients - not "consumers"

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