Regulator receives over 600 complains about lawyers in first six months of work

Majority of complaints related to alleged misconduct including fraud

Fifty-four per cent of complaints (342) concerned alleged misconduct including 42 complaints alleging fraud or dishonesty. Photograph: Getty Images

Fifty-four per cent of complaints (342) concerned alleged misconduct including 42 complaints alleging fraud or dishonesty. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The body responsible for processing allegations of wrongdoing against solicitors and barristers received an average of over four complaints a day in its first six months of work.

Between October 7th, 2019 and March 6th, 2020, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LRSA) received 636 complaints concerning lawyers’ conduct, or 4.18 a day. Of these 633 related to solicitors while only three were about barristers, who typically do not deal directly with the public.

Fifty-four per cent of complaints (342) concerned alleged misconduct including 42 complaints alleging fraud or dishonesty.

There were 238 complaints (37 per cent) relating to allegedly inadequate services and 56 (9 per cent) relating to overcharging.

The figures are contained in the LRSA’s first biannual complaints report which it is obliged by law to publish.

Criminal activity

Of the complaints processed, 187 have been closed or withdrawn. The majority of these (74 per cent) were judged to be inadmissible by the LRSA.

The authority also received 14 complaints relating to alleged criminal activity, the majority of which relate to allegations of work carried out by a suspected bogus law firm. These complaints have been referred to the Garda.

Alleged failures by solicitors to carry out undertakings, which are formal commitments to complete an action eg paying off a client’s mortgage once a house is sold, made up 11 per cent of complaints. The LRSA expressed concern about the number of allegations of solicitors failing to complete undertakings and said some complaints related to undertakings which were over a decade old.

The authority also expressed concern about instances of poor communication between lawyers and clients. It said a large number of complaints could have been avoided through clear communication at an early stage.