The Legal Services Board (LSB) is consulting on proposals to ensure that people who use legal services have access to fair and effective complaint procedures. The proposals aim to strengthen consumer protection and improve the quality and standards of legal services.
The consultation is focused on so-called ‘first-tier complaints’, which are made directly to a legal services provider when a consumer is dissatisfied with the quality of the service provided.
The draft new policy statement sets clear outcomes for regulators to deliver, including collecting and analysing intelligence on complaints to support the best possible redress system and fostering a culture of learning and continuous improvement within the sector to raise standards.
The consultation follows the LSB’s recent research exploring the challenges consumers face when complaining about legal services, as well as a range of evidence that first-tier complaints handling is not meeting consumers’ expectations as well as it should.
The LSB believes that the proposals will see regulators delivering a step-change improvement in the resolution of first-tier complaints, by ensuring that complaints procedures are effective, efficient and fair and provide an effective redress system.
The LSB want regulators to foster a culture where legal professionals are receptive to, and learn from, complaints and feedback on their services and so that all legal service users will “feel empowered to raise concerns if they are dissatisfied, knowing that these will be taken seriously and used to deliver
The consultation emphasises that the current Requirements are silent in respect of steps that regulators or authorised persons should take to learn from complaints and thereby improve their service. It proposes that regulators ensure that authorised persons need consider and, if proportionate, undertake training and provide appropriate support for staff in order to address any risks and issues arising from complaints.
The impact that this may have is that firms may be required to maintain records of complaints and to record how complaints are dealt with and the chnages that are made within the firm to address those complaints in the future. It is likely to feed in to the SRA’s current round of transparency checks and make them look more closely at complaints processes generally within firms.
The consultation will be found on the LSB website.