Newsletter – December 2022
From the CEO
Following a consultation earlier this year, we have now received approval from our oversight regulator (the Legal Services Board) to make changes to our Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Although the changes are relatively minor, they will require Costs Lawyers to make adjustments to their internal complaints procedures. The Legal Ombudsman is also making changes that will affect your complaints procedure, so we have aligned our timings to ensure you only need to amend your procedure once. You can start getting ready now, ahead of the joint compliance deadline in April.
The CLSB’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (DR&P) establish the processes to be followed when we receive information indicating that a Costs Lawyer might have breached our rules. The DR&P were last updated in May 2020 following a detailed review. At that time, we committed to assessing the effectiveness of the new DR&P two years after implementation. That assessment was carried out in 2022, and we identified several changes that could be made to better align our processes with those of the Legal Ombudsman.
The Legal Ombudsman also reviewed its own Scheme Rules this year and decided to make a number of changes. You can read more about those changes in the “Spotlight on…” section of this newsletter, where the Chief Ombudsman, Paul McFadden, explains the upcoming amendments and their intended impact. Like the changes to the DR&P, the amendments to the Scheme Rules will also have an impact on Costs Lawyers’ internal complaints procedures.
Both sets of changes – to the DR&P and the Scheme Rules – will come into force on 1 April 2023. We have aligned our timing with the Legal Ombudsman’s to ensure that Costs Lawyers only need to update their complaints procedures once.
The main amendments you will need to make to your complaints procedure relate to:
- The time limit for clients to refer complaints to the Legal Ombudsman. This will decrease from six years to one year.
- The need for clients to exhaust your internal complaints procedure before they can escalate a complaint to the CLSB about your conduct.
This will also be a good opportunity to ensure that contact details for the CLSB and Legal Ombudsman in your complaints procedure are up to date. As a reminder, the CLSB changed its address earlier this year to: PO Box 4336, Manchester M61 0BW.
We will be sending further communications to Costs Lawyers in the new year about the changes that are required, along with an updated version of our model complaints procedure. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please contact us.