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Just 11 excessive cost complaints sent to LSRA
Dr Brian Doherty of LSRA

26 Apr 2024 / regulation Print

Just 11 excessive cost complaints sent to LSRA

A report by the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) finds a total of 637 complaints over six months, with 607 related to solicitors and 30 related to barristers.

It details:

  • 382 complaints (60%) of alleged misconduct,
  • 128 complaints (20%) of inadequate legal services,
  • 11 complaints (2%) of excessive costs (overcharging),
  • 116 complaints (18%) were mixed-grounds complaints, with a combination of misconduct, inadequate services and excessive costs.

The report, which runs from 2 September 2023 to 1 March 2024, details the number and nature of complaints about legal practitioners, both solicitors and barristers, in the period.

The complaints figure for the period is down from the 655 recorded in the previous six months.

€45,111 in compensation

Legal practitioners were directed by the LSRA to pay a total of €45,111 in compensation to clients in the reporting period.

The LSRA can receive and investigate three types of complaint:

  • Inadequate legal services,
  • Excessive cost (overcharging), and

A total of 796 complaints were closed and, of these:

  • 414 were inadmissible complaints (52%),
  • 131 (16%) complaints were resolved with LSRA help – including 19 in an informal resolution process with trained mediators,
  • 69 (9%) were upheld complaints,
  • 72 (9%) were not upheld complaints, and
  • Seven complaints of alleged misconduct were referred by the LSRA to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

On High Court enforcement, the LSRA acted against solicitors who did not comply with its directions or determinations in complaints made against them.

Pre-action letters

During the period covered in the report, these included:

  • 15 pre-action letters asking for compliance with LSRA directions,
  • Three enforcement proceedings seeking High Court orders directing compliance,
  • Of six High court enforcement proceedings, four matters ended with the subject’s compliance.

Separately, an LSRA High Court application sought leave for an order of attachment or committal of a legal practitioner for failure to comply with an earlier enforcement order.

Struck out

Following compliance, the matter was struck out with no order.

LSRA’s chief executive Dr Brian Doherty said:“The LSRA has repeatedly had cause to initiate High Court enforcement proceedings against legal practitioners who have not complied with its directions or determinations in complaints. Today’s report highlights once again the small number of instances where a High Court enforcement order has been granted and legal practitioners have still not complied.

“In these instances, the LSRA has had to resort to applying to the High Court for leave to issue orders of attachment or committal, which in effect puts legal practitioners at risk of being put in prison unless they comply with the High Court.

“These court applications and the resulting cost would not be necessary if the legal practitioners concerned would just comply with the directions or determinations made by the LSRA in the first place. No benefit is gained by a legal practitioner through not complying, and by not doing so they are simply putting the LSRA to further effort and expense and, for the complainant, they are adding to the mounting frustration.”

This is the ninth report published by the LSRA on its complaints function.

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