Adam Sampson last week wrote in his blog about the challenges about publishing complaints data.
The Legal Ombudsman wants to publish the number of complaints that he deals with for each firm but points out that it would be unfair to present that data out of context of the number of cases each firm does. Firms with more cases are likely to have more complaints in total and will look worse than firms with a few big cases and only the odd complaint even though both groups may have the same proportion of complaints.
Conveyancers probably handle a larger volume of individual cases than most other parts of the industry. I can’t immediately think of any other part of the legal market that is involved with about a million transactions per year. So it isn’t surprising that conveyancing has the most complaints. I am not saying we haven’t got a long way to go to improving our track record I`m merely talking about sheer weight of transaction numbers.
So if publishing of complaints to the Ombudsman becomes normal it is likely that conveyancers are going to look pretty poor compared with other parts of the sector. Conveyancers will be named and shamed as the lawyers with the most complaints. Such publicity is likely to impact on your professional indemnity record. The media are also likely to report on it damaging your brand in the market.
Not all complaints are likely to be equal either I am sure some areas of law generate a low frequency of complaints but are very upsetting and involve damaging issues for their clients that can last with them forever. Conveyancing complaints can be about delay, service and cost issues but are less likely to be as serious as issues such as the liberty of the client.
When Adam Sampson asks for ideas about how to obtain the data to put complaints into context it makes sense for the conveyancing sector to respond.
His final sentence suggests that firms may ultimately be required to publish their own complaints records. Would this be such a bad thing if you could explain the reasons? However given that so many firms can’t be bothered with even putting the name of their regulator on their website would this realistically work?
To see the blog follow this link