The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) in Ireland has published its 2019 Annual Report which provides an overview of its performance for the year, including its new role in handling public complaints relating to solicitors and barristers.
The Annual Report contains statistical data on complaints and early trends, including:
- During the 12 week period from 7th October to the end of December 2019, the LSRA’s Complaints and Resolutions Unit received a total of 304 complaints (301 relating to solicitors and 3 relating to barristers).
- A total of 141 complaints alleged inadequate standards of services, with 134 alleging misconduct and 29 relating to alleged excessive costs (overcharging).
- The Complaints and Resolutions Unit received 954 phone calls and emails requesting information and/or complaint forms.
- Among the areas of legal services complained about were wills and probate, litigation, conveyancing and family law.
- A total of nine complaints in 2019 involved issues relating to alleged criminal activity, with the majority related to allegations made against what is suspected to be a bogus law firm.
LSRA Chief Executive Brian Doherty said:
“The LSRA had been expecting an early spike in complaints and that is exactly what we have experienced. It is still too early to point to particular trends in relation to the complaints we have received. However, allegations of poor communication between legal professionals and their clients is emerging as a strong feature across almost all complaints. Regular and timely communication with clients appears to be a key lesson for practitioners in preventing and settling complaints before they escalate.”
As well as looking at complaints the report also looked at new statistics available on LLPs
In November 2019, the LSRA introduced a new framework allowing partnerships of solicitors to operate as LLPs.
This new business model is intended to put Ireland on a par with other jurisdictions and has the potential to increase competition in the legal services market, reduce professional indemnity insurance costs for LLPs, and consequently lower costs for consumers.
By the end of 2019, 88 valid applications for LLP authorisation were submitted by legal firms, and 28 authorisations were issued by the LSRA.