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September 30, 2003

UK Lawyers Get New Discipline System

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:31 am

Acting with a swiftness impossible in the multi-jurisdictional (and pro-lawyer) American legal discipline system, the British Lord Chancellor has announced the establishment of a new Commissioner for legal services complaints, stripping the Law Society of England and Wales of its ancient right to regulate the profession.  


According to an article in The Guardian  (“Threat of huge fines on Law Society,” by Clare Dyer, Sept. 27, 2003, via‘s Daily Legal NewsWire), the commissioner’s role will be to scrutinize the Law Society’s overall complaints-handling process, impose targets on the Society, and even fine it if it fails to meet them.   An Ombudsman’s Office will continue to be concerned with how well the Society responds to individual complaints.

Lord Falconer, the UK Lord Chancelor is quoted in the Guardian explaining that: “The process by which complaints are dealt with has not commanded public confidence over the years. It is a significant problem.”   The article continues: “He described a culture in firms of not trying to satisfy a complainant but trying to ‘knock out a complaint by a detailed analysis of the facts’, or regarding a complainant as ‘someone who doesn’t quite understand the process, and therefore must be wrong’.”

The impending reforms in the UK were discussed at length, along with comparisons of many issues impacting client services and legal discipline in the USA and UK, in our posting here on Aug. 4, 2003.We’ve wondered before, and have to ask again:  When will those with the power to affect change (e.g., judges, bar leaders, politicians) champion such reforms for the American system, on behalf of the American consumer of legal services? 

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