The Legal Ombudsman: New online trial tool

It is no secret that The Legal Ombudsman is expected to receive budget cuts while still expected to respond and act efficiently within a timely manner to complaints which are predicted to rise. 

Overall with the cost of handling claims management, the total budget for 2018/2019 is £14.5m – an increase of 14% from their predicted budget.  

According to their 2017/2018 annual report, The Ombudsman was able to resolve 9% of cases within 90 days, against an expected target of 60%. During that same month, 63% of cases were resolved within 180 days (the target is 90%), and 7% of cases were still not resolved within a year. Their reasoning was due to staff turnover because of a ‘competitive market’ and high levels of sickness. 

Additionally, the reports showed the most popular complaints related to residential conveyancing, family law, personal injury, wills and probate and litigation. Due to the complexity of these areas of laws they arguably take longer to resolve. 

However, last week The Ombudsman have launched an online system in the hope that it ‘could out’ hundreds of unwarranted enquires. The new system will allow consumers who have contacted the ombudsman to discover whether their complaint can be handled immediately, by another organisation or if their complaint is too early to be processed. 
Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints, has stated that ‘Consumers today are often looking for quick responses to their questions. Our customer assessment tool is a great way for them to access our services and understand how and when we can help them.’

The new system underwent a trial period where it was tested over the previous month. The results showed approx 3,000 users were able to assess their complaint to confirm whether they should pursue their grievance either now, later or not at all. 

Further, The Ombudsman also revealed that almost 500 consumers realised their complaint was ‘outside of its jurisdiction and were signposted to the correct organisation’. Additionally, a further 350 learned that they had to wait to give their service provider an opportunity to respond. Many others were advised to self-assess.

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