The Legal Ombudsman will look at ways to extend its remit to clients of unregulated providers in the next three years.
The complaints-handler published its strategy until 2020 this week and said it would welcome any opportunity to extend its jurisdiction.
As well as redress for clients of unregulated providers, LeO will also examine extending its service to small and medium-sized businesses, and will add mediation services.
The ombudsman said it will not pursue an ‘explicitly expansionist strategy’ but will ‘exploit opportunities to extend consumer redress through changes to our jurisdiction and developing our service’.
The Competition and Markets Authority recommended in December that the Ministry of Justice looks at whether to extend protection from existing redress schemes to customers using unauthorised providers.
The ombudsman strategy said it will work with and influence stakeholders on any legislative changes to extend the service.
‘While several recent initiatives within the self-regulated part of the sector have led to the development of complaints-handling regimes, we consider that the effectiveness of such regimes is limited by their scope and enforceability.’
Meanwhile, the service expects the number of complaints relating to lawyers to stay at around 7,000 over the next three years.
Indicative legal spending will remain at £11.5m in 2017/18 but reduce to £10.7m in 2018/19 and £9.88m in 2019/2020.
That will be the smallest spend ever made by LeO in a full year and is almost £7m less than the service cost in 2012/13.
Headcount at the service will remain the same, with pay increases limited to 1%.
The ombudsman confirmed it is planning on the basis of the case fee income remaining unchanged.