Government introduces new Legal Ombudsman powers

From early next year, the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) is empowered to accept complaints made on behalf of claims management companies (CMCs). The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), acting in its capacity as Claims Management Regulator, anticipate that the service will be launched on 28 January 2015.

The CMC industry will be required to fund this expansion of the LeO's responsibilities, subject to a scale of fees approved by the MoJ.

Following changes enacted as a result of the 2013 Jackson reforms, the number of CMCs fell by an estimated 30%. The Ministry of Justice now regulates companies offering claims management services, and provides guidance and advice to both regulated firms and consumers.

Simon Tunnicliffe, the Legal Ombudsman's Head of Claims Management, said that he looked forward to the new scheme's contribution to 'raising standards'.

The MoJ consulted on the scheme earlier this year, with responses disagreeing on whether proposed fees were set at the right level, and the querying the anticipated levels of complaints.

The Legal Ombudsman provides an impartial and independent service on behalf of consumers of legal services. The ombudsman investigates the facts in each case brought to its attention, and aims to employ its experience assisting legal professionals with the handling of complaints.