This page explains what to do if you have a complaint about a lawyer, and you are dissatisfied with the way in which the lawyer’s professional body investigated the matter.
Each branch of the legal profession has a professional body which investigates complaints about its members (see back of leaflet for contact details). If you are unhappy with the way that the professional body dealt with your complaint, or the conclusions that they reached, you can refer the matter to the Ombudsman. Please note that the Ombudsman will normally only consider complaints after the professional body have completed their investigation.
Who is the Legal Services Ombudsman and what does she do?
Zahida Manzoor CBE is the Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales. She is independent of the legal profession and a non lawyer. The Legal Services Ombudsman derives her powers from the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. In creating the role of Ombudsman, it was Parliament’s intention to protect the interests of the consumers of legal services – clients, and members of the public. She does this by ensuring that the professional bodies conduct fair, thorough and efficient investigations of complaints about their members.
When the Ombudsman reviews the way that a professional body have handled a complaint, she will consider whether:
- the investigation was thorough, and fair;
- all the relevant facts were taken into account;
- the conclusions reached were reasonable, and properly explained;
- the investigation was handled efficiently, without unnecessary delay;
- the outcome was appropriate (for example, the lawyer may have been disciplined, or you might have been awarded compensation).
A brief guide to the complaints process
- You must already have a decision from the lawyer’s professional body.
- You should write to the Ombudsman within 3 months of receiving that decision.
- The Ombudsman will review the way that the professional body investigated your complaint about the lawyer.
- If the Ombudsman is not satisfied with the way that the professional body dealt with your complaint, she can recommend that they re-investigate, or she can formally criticise them.
- If the Ombudsman considers that you have been distressed or inconvenienced by the professional body’s handling of your complaint, she can recommend that they pay you compensation.