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1,599 complaints made against lawyers last year, according to legal services watchdog

Seventy-one of those complaints refer to alleged fraud.

ALMOST 1,600 COMPLAINTS were made against solicitors and barristers in Ireland last year, a rise of 12% compared to the previous year.

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) revealed that its complaints, resolutions and investigations department received a total of 3,356 phone calls and e-mails in the year requesting information and complaint forms.

The LSRA is the independent statutory body responsible for the regulation of legal services provision.

Its annual report shows that a total of 1,599 complaints were received about lawyers during 2021.

Of these, 1,560 related to solicitors while 39 related to barristers, though multiple complaints may be made about an individual legal practitioner.

A total of 1,343 complaints were closed during 2021.

Of these, 398 were resolved and 172 were withdrawn. Just under half – 615 complaints – were closed because they were deemed as inadmissible following a statutory assessment.

The largest category of complaints, at 1,090, related to alleged misconduct.

Of the 1,090 complaints of alleged misconduct, 352 involved a failure to comply with an undertaking given to a colleague or financial institution and 297 related to conduct likely to bring the profession into disrepute.

A further 108 related to a failure to handover a file or other deeds and documents, 91 related to a failure to communicate, 71 involved alleged fraud or dishonesty and 62 related to an alleged failure to account for client’s money.

A total of 431 were from clients relating to alleged inadequate standards of legal services, and a further 78 were from clients who alleged they had been charged excessive costs.

Although the number of complaints received continues to rise, the breakdown in the types of complaint received shows a consistent trend.

Complaints relating to alleged misconduct continue to increase, a rise of 33% on the previous year, those relating to alleged inadequate standards of legal services and excessive costs continue to fall, down by 13% and 27% respectively.

The annual report provides a breakdown of complaints received during the year based on the office locations of the legal practitioners against whom complaints were brought.

Out of the total of 1,599 complaints received during 2021, 592 were made against legal practitioners based in Dublin city and county, while 205 were in Cork city and county, 83 were in Kildare and 82 were in Limerick.