More complaints about lawyers being resolved through mediation

More complaints about lawyers being resolved through mediation

Mediation is becoming increasing widespread as a means of resolving complaints by consumers about legal practitioners, according to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA).

The regulator’s 2023 annual report shows that it received a total of 1,290 complaints and closed a total of 1,432 complaints in 2023, the fourth full year that is has operated as the independent complaints handling body for solicitors and barristers.

A total of 256 complaints were informally resolved during the year with the assistance of the LSRA’s complaints staff and trained mediators.

Meanwhile, some 30 complaints of alleged misconduct were referred to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for an inquiry.

The LSRA also made 12 applications to the High Court for orders to enforce its directions in complaints against legal practitioners.

Dr Brian Doherty, chief executive of the LSRA, said: “I am pleased to report that, for the second year since the LSRA began receiving and investigating complaints about legal practitioners, more complaints were closed than were received in 2023.

“Underlying this high complaints closure rate is the sustained effort of LSRA staff and members of its regulatory Committees to improve efficiencies and refine complaints handling processes.

“It is also encouraging to note that the number of complainants and legal practitioners willing to engage with each other to informally resolve their complaints continues to grow.

“In the year under review, efforts at informal resolution with the assistance of the LSRA’s trained mediators took place in 93 complaints, up from 61 in 2022 and 38 in 2021.

“A total of 256 complaints were resolved between the parties with the assistance of the LSRA, including 32 complaints which involved the LSRA’s trained mediators assisting both parties to reach an agreement.”

He continued: “Informal resolution is not an appropriate way to handle every type of complaint, and the LSRA can only offer its mediator services for consumer complaints about legal services or costs.

“However, in the right circumstances, this approach can be a very effective and efficient way for both parties to work through their issues or disputes on an entirely voluntarily basis and in a safe and confidential manner with the help of our specialist staff.”

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