Thursday, April 07, 2011

Who You Gonna Call?


According to Adam Sampson, the Legal Ombudsman, consumers will be confused after October when alternative business structures set up. Because consumers will be able to select from lawyers and non-lawyers to do their wills, divorce or conveyancing, if something goes wrong their ability to complain will be curtailed.

Sampson says he can only receive complaints about fully-qualified lawyers, not paralegals:
The majority of complaints it receives about legal services are unable to be dealt with as they are about unqualified professionals. Since it was created six months ago, the ombudsman has received about 40,000 complaints. It has only been able to take on 4,000 cases and has almost completed 1,500 of these. Sampson says the ombudsman receives a lot of complaints about deficient wills written by unqualified legal services providers.
This is analogous to the regulatory scope of the Financial Services Ombudsman when it started. Its scope was limited but then extended as more and more financial service providers entered the market. I imagine the Legal Ombudsman will have to take similar steps and be given the powers to do so. If not, then the legal services market will look fragmented and confusing as he predicts.
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