LSRA report shows 673 complaints received and 646 complaints closed in five month period
On Monday 4 October 2021, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) published its second complaints report for 2021, which shows it received 673 complaints about legal practitioners in a five–month period, with 646 complaints closed.
The report provides details of the number and nature of complaints about legal practitioners (solicitors and barristers) received and investigated during the reporting period of 27 March to 3 September 2021. This includes a total of 32 complaints closed by the independent Complaints Committee which was set up in 2020 to investigate complaints of alleged misconduct referred to it by the LSRA.
- The LSRA’s Complaints and Resolutions Unit received a total of 673 complaints in the reporting period. A total of 654 related to solicitors and 19 to barristers, reflecting the higher number of solicitors and their greater level of contact with consumers. Multiple complaints may be brought against an individual legal practitioner.
- A total of 443 complaints alleged misconduct, with 193 complaints about alleged inadequate standard of legal services and a further 37 relating to alleged excessive costs (overcharging).
- This trend is largely consistent with the pattern seen in the LSRA’s three previous complaints reports since it began receiving and investigating complaints about legal practitioners in October 2019.
- Complaints relating to alleged misconduct increased as a proportion of the total (66% in this reporting period compared to 57% in the previous one). Complaints of inadequate legal services decreased (29% in this reporting period compared to 36% in the previous report). Complaints relating to excessive costs also decreased (5% of the total in this reporting period, down from 7% in the previous one).
- The main areas of legal services that attracted complaints were litigation, family law, wills and probate and conveyancing. A total of 123 complaints were made by banks relating to outstanding solicitors’ undertakings (a commitment given by a solicitor which is relied upon and is legally binding). Failure to comply with an undertaking is investigated as complaint of alleged misconduct.
- Complaints and Resolutions staff received a total of 1,236 phone calls and e–mails requesting information and/or complaints forms.
Complaints outcomes: all closed complaints
- A total of 646 complaints were closed during the reporting period. Of these, 316 (49%) were deemed to be inadmissible following consideration by the LSRA. A total of 275 (42%) were closed pre–admissibility – that is before a decision was made as to whether the complaint was admissible.
- Of the 275 complaints files closed in the pre–admissibility process, 183 (67%) were resolved with the assistance of the LSRA.
- The LSRA’s complaints staff made determinations in a total of 21 complaints of inadequate legal services and excessive costs, and issued directions to solicitors in 17 of these complaints which were upheld.
- Two LSRA determinations which upheld complaints of inadequate standard of legal services were reviewed by the Review Committee, which confirmed both original determinations. In one of these complaints, the Review Committee further directed that the legal practitioner pay compensation to the complainant of €1,200.
Complaints outcomes: misconduct complaints
- A total of 48 complaints were considered by the independent Complaints Committee which was set up in November 2020 to hear misconduct complaints. The Committee closed 32 complaints, all of which related to solicitors. Of these, the Complaints Committee upheld ten complaints and referred nine to the new Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
- In three of the ten complaints upheld by the Complaints Committee, legal practitioners were directed to pay the LSRA a total of €6,350 towards the costs of its investigations. In one complaint, the legal practitioner was directed to pay the complainant €5,000 in compensation.
- A total of nine complaints were referred by the Complaints Committee to the independent Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (LPDT) for further investigation.
The full report can be found on the LSRA’S WEBSITE.