19 Oct 2020 | 10.10 am
Rude Lawyers A Concern For Regulator
Legal Services Regulatory Authority update
19 Oct 2020 | 10.10 am
The Legal Services Regulatory Authority received 605 complaints about lawyers in the March to September 2020 period.
Just 18 of the 605 complaints were about barristers, with 587 lodged about solicitors. The number is down on the previous total of 636 complaints recorded in the five months from October 2019, when the LRSA took over the job of dealing with legal complaints, to March 2020.
Of the 605 complaints detailed in the LRSA report, 57% related to alleged misconduct, 35% were of alleged provision of inadequate legal services, and 8% related to overcharging.
A total of 436 are still being investigated, while 96 were deemed inadmissible and 23 were withdrawn, and 50 were resolved informally with the LRSA’s help.
Among the areas complained about were wills and probate, litigation, conveyancing and family law.
Chief executive Brian Doherty said: “Our report shows an encouraging number of complaints being resolved at an early stage. This is due primarily to the efforts of legal practitioners to engage with the new complaints system, reflect on the complaints made and attempt to repair and mend their relationships with their clients. This is both encouraging and to be encouraged.”
Highlighting the fact that poor communication between legal practitioners and clients is a key feature of most complaints, Doherty continued: “Complainants continually raise the issue that they were not adequately informed by their legal practitioner as to the cost and time or the risks involved in taking or defending legal proceedings.
“Probate and wills continue to attract complaints from dissatisfied executors and beneficiaries and we have received further complaints in relation to the non-payment of barristers’ fees by solicitors.”
Zoe Richardson and Aisling Ray of law firm Fieldfisher commented: “Another theme identified by the LSRA report is complaints relating to alleged rudeness of legal practitioners, and the report indicates that a number of complaints alleging that a legal practitioner had behaved in a rude or insulting manner were received from members of the public as well as others who work in a court setting, such as expert witnesses and interpreters.
“The report notes that behaving in such a way can have disciplinary consequences for a legal practitioner if the complaint is upheld, particularly where a pattern of this type of behaviour can be demonstrated.
“As a result of the rise in this type of complaint, the LSRA intends to address the issue of rudeness in more detail in its next bi-annual report.”
The Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 places informal complaints resolution at the heart of the new independent regime, and the LSRA’s staff are affiliated to the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland.
The full report can be downloaded here.