Ombudsman reveals residential conveyancing complaints

The Legal Ombudsman has released a ‘thematic report’ looking at residential conveyancing complaints.

Residential conveyancing accounted for around 17.5% of the 7,500 or so complaints handled by the Legal Ombudsman in 2011-2012, making it the second most complained about area of law.

Adam Sampson, Chief Ombudsman said: “When consumers come to the Legal Ombudsman under circumstances such as these, they are often angry and upset.

“And, as you will see from the case studies, in some instances this response is entirely understandable.

“Conversely, in some cases it transpires that the customer has unrealistic expectations — for example about what a search should reasonably reveal.

“Given the emotions involved, it isn’t always easy to resolve these complaints, but that is our daily challenge.”

The report contains summaries of eight Legal Ombudsman investigations. Four of these relate to delays and hidden costs that resulted in consumers losing out on their home or being left with significant unexpected costs.

Two relate to a failure to follow the customer’s instructions or provide adequate advice or background information on the part of the lawyer.

In one case the customer was left in a caravan on Christmas day, whilst another was £50,000 out of pocket.

The final two investigations found no poor service, helping to show how customers sometimes misunderstand what their lawyer should reasonably be expected to do.

As well as publishing the report, the Ombudsman has produced a fact sheet for consumers.

The fact sheet will enable them to ask the right sort of questions when first enquiring and help them better understand the residential conveyancing process.

The report can be seen on the LEO website.

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