Consumers have been left in the dark about how to make a complaint if they receive poor service from companies offering legal advice, a new report has found.
The research by the Legal Ombudsman has revealed that an unregulated legal market of around 130,000 businesses is leaving consumers vulnerable to poor service and confusion over how to pursue complaints.
The Legal Ombudsman said people buying wills, receiving advice on employment issues and debt management could be at risk, because advice given in these sectors – among others – has created an overlap between legal and professional services.
This can cause confusion for consumers about what services are covered by the Legal Ombudsman scheme, the ombudsman said.
As a result, the Legal Ombudsman is calling for all professional services offering legal advice to be brought under one redress scheme.
If you’re having a problem with a company that you’re finding difficult to resolve, you should consider escalating it. Read our guide for advice on how to take your complaint to the ombudsman.
Using the Legal Ombudsman
An independent survey, referenced in the Legal Ombudsman’s report, found there are around three million users of legal services in the UK each year.
But many consumers are failing to raise a complaint if they’re unhappy with the service they receive, the ombudsman said.
If you’re unsure about whether to take your complaint to the ombudsman, read our guide on when to use an ombudsman and to understand the ombudsman’s role.
Legal advice warnings
Consumers need to be careful when seeking legal advice and be aware that some areas, such as will-writing, aren’t regulated.
When looking for legal advice, it’s advisable to check the roll of solicitors, seek recommendations from friends and family or consider using a legal service that is regulated by other bodies, such as the Institute of Professional Will Writers.
You can check if a person is registered to practice as a solicitor by searching on the Law Society’s website.
If you engage a solicitor and encounter any problems, there’s a formal complaints procedure to follow. If you’re not satisfied with the final outcome of a complaint, you can take it to the Legal Ombudsman, which is independent, impartial and free to use.