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Over 600 complaints made against barristers and solicitors in six-month period

Over 340 related to alleged misconduct.

Image: Shutterstock/Daisy Daisy

THE LEGAL SERVICES Regulatory Authority (LSRA) has published its second report which shows it has received 605 complaints about solicitors and barristers in a six-month period.

The report is based on complaints made to the legal services regulator between 7 March and 6 September 2020.

Allegations of misconduct, inadequate service and high costs made up the majority of the complaints.

The stats show:

  • A total of 605 complaints were received. Of these, 587 related to solicitors and 18 related to barristers.
  • 346 complaints (57%) alleged misconduct, with 213 (35%) of complaints about alleged inadequate legal services and a further 46 (8%) related to alleged excessive costs.

169 were received during the period were closed, with 96 of these deemed inadmissible and 23 withdrawn. A total of 436 remain under investigation.

The complaints unit received a total of 1,271 phone calls and emails during the six-month period requesting information and/or complaint forms, the LSRA said.

Among the areas of legal services complained about were wills and probate, litigation, conveyancing and family law.

The number of complaints received in this reporting period is slightly lower than in the first five months of operation when the LSRA received a total of 636 grievances.

Its chief executive Dr Brian Doherty said it is heartening to see that consumers of legal services have continued to engage with the LSRA.

“Where possible and appropriate, we make every effort to resolve complaints informally with legal practitioners and clients. Today’s report shows an encouraging number of complaints being resolved at an early stage.

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“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,” he said.

Dr Doherty highlighted the fact that poor communication between legal practitioners and clients is a key feature of most grievances received.

“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,” he added.

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