Standards of service and considering vulnerability

Why this risk matters

  • We set the high standards of behaviour and professional competence expected of solicitors and law firms in our Principles, Code of Conduct and Statement of Solicitor Competence.
  • Poor service often leads to people not receiving the help they need. This can have a greater impact when someone is vulnerable, for example, because they are going through a stressful situation or if they are at risk of harm.
  • People rely on solicitors to help them, often at difficult times in their lives. It is important advice and support is competent and professionally delivered.
  • If a person or small business feel they have received a poor service from a solicitor, they can complain to the solicitor, and ultimately the Legal Ombudsman.
  • Where there is evidence of a serious breach of our standards we will take action in the public interest. For example, incompetence that causes serious harm or a pattern of poor quality service.

Trends

  • Year on year, the most common complaints received by solicitors are about delay, failure to advise, and excessive costs.
  • Complaints are usually about work relating to conveyancing, family law, personal injury, and wills and probate. But these are common areas of law, where many people use a solicitor.
  • We also see concerns raised about criminal practice and asylum and immigration work.
  • We remain concerned about the service provided by some solicitors involved in claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance and holiday sickness.

Actions

  • We have resources for solicitors working in the Youth Court, and recently conducted a review of firms working in the asylum and immigration sector.
  • While many holiday sickness claims are genuine, we believe that some are being submitted by solicitors without proper analysis of the evidence. We are investigating some firms for issues including improper referrals from claims management companies and failing to verify cases. We recently published a warning notice to help everyone understand their obligations.
  • We plan to introduce two clearer, shorter Codes of Conduct before the end of 2018. These will make it easier for solicitors and the public to understand the standard of service we expect solicitors to provide.

Further information

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