In the Media

We?ll publish all on complaints, LeO states

PUBLISHED August 20, 2012

Monday 20 August 2012 by John Hyde

The Legal Ombudsman has reaffirmed its commitment to making public complaints data about lawyers and firms despite a delay in publication.

Chief Ombudsman Adam Sampson said the first quarter's data - including around 900 decisions - will be published 'sometime in the autumn'.

Writing in his regular blog, Sampson revealed pressure from central government for the legal profession to follow others in revealing information about complaints. He said that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills had said there would need to be a 'very strong case' for the ombudsman not to follow the lead of bodies such as the Financial Services Ombudsman in transparency and openness.

When publication does happen, he said the tables will include 'pretty much all the useable information we possess,' except for complainants' names. That will mean the name of each lawyer or firm involved, the area of law, the date of the decision, whether any remedy was ordered, the nature and amount of that remedy and the reason for the complaint.

Sampson conceded the process will be 'imperfect' and agreed with the criticism that information will be only partial and will lack context such as the nature of the work a firm carries out.

But he added: 'Given the choice between making an imperfect, transparent start or keeping information secret, our commitment to our values means that there really was only ever one answer.' Publication of the data, covering the first three months of the financial year up to the end of June, had been intended for release this month. That date was put back as administrators worked out the best way to publish the information.