The government is almost certain to miss its target for transferring complaints about claims management companies (CMCs) to the Legal Ombudsman.
The Ministry of Justice cannot yet say when the plans – unveiled last August – will come to fruition.
The move was scheduled to be completed this year, but the Gazette understands it will take at least five months for the ombudsman to prepare for the change once the MoJ has given final approval.
An MoJ spokeswoman confirmed it is still ‘working through the details’ and will make an announcement in due course.
The ombudsman service has made it clear it is not to blame for the delays to passporting complaints from the government’s own Claims Management Regulation Unit.
Chief ombudsman Adam Sampson (pictured) said: ‘This is not an issue of principle or of cost; it’s about getting the legislative mechanism right. We’re willing to accept complaints about CMCs as soon as the government and regulator tells us that they have sorted out the technical issues.’
The start-up costs of claims management complaint-handling, estimated to be around £3m, will be ringfenced and recovered from the MoJ rather than the legal profession.
The switch will significantly increase the workload of the ombudsman. The Claims Management Regulation Unit received 14,282 complaints from businesses and consumers about CMCs in 2012.
According to figures released last month, that number is equivalent to around 20% of the total number of complaints the ombudsman dealt with last year.