Legal Services Board strengthens requirements on client complaint response 

10th Jun 2024

The newly reinforced requirements focus on complaints made to an authorised person about the service they provided.

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The changes follow a consultation which found that half of escalated complaints were dealt with inadequately at the first tier level.

The consultation, which took place last year, identified that 30% of complaints that were made to the Legal Ombudsman were premature. In other words, before options available at the first tier had been fully exhausted.

According to the LSB, this could be due to the possibility that the process is seen as too complex or as unreliable.

The new guidance responds to these concerns, in particular emphasising the consumer’s right to a clear and well-communicated early-stage complaints procedure.

The Legal Services Board is the oversight regulator for legal regulators in England and Wales, including IPReg.

Alongside the new guidance, the LSB has set up the First Tier Complaints Coalition, which will work collaboratively to support a better culture around complaints handling. This coalition includes both CITMA and CIPA.

Legal services providers have a responsibility to set out complaints procedures when a new client is engaged, and to ensure that the information is available upon request.

They must also make sure that the outcome of a complaint is communicated promptly and clearly, and that any agreed upon remedy is applied.

Referring to the new process, Alan Kershaw, Chair of the LSB, said: “Addressing complaints promptly is not just about resolving issues; it’s good for business too.

“By tackling grievances early on, we prevent them from escalating into resource-intensive problems down the line.

“This proactive approach not only fosters better customer relationships but also enhances a competitive edge in the market and reduces the need for a regulator to become involved.”

The LSB’s full new guidance and statement of policy can be read here.