Following on from my post earlier this year, it seems that LEO is set to go ahead with plans to consult on its vision of dealing with third party complaints.
You may recall that the initial need for LEO to deal with third party complaints arose from reports of solicitors hounding third parties over alleged debts.
LEO is set to consult on this issue later this year and considers that it could help with consumer protection and access to redress.
Not everyone thinks this is such a good idea. LEO asked Mark Stubbs, Director of Legal Policy at the Law Society if the Legal Ombudsman should be able to accept a wider range of complaints from third parties. Mr Stubbs' response included : " ….But making the lawyer liable to the expense of dealing with a complaint and the fear of having to pay redress to someone who is not the client will actually damage the real client to whom the solicitor owes his or her main duty."
Furthermore it appears difficult, perhaps impossible, to reconcile LeO's concerns about lawyers' ethical duties to act fairly vis-à-vis third parties with the strong protection that the civil Courts have repeatedly given to client confidentiality and privilege entitlements.
We will have to wait and see whether LEO's idea to deal third party complaints will go any further than consultation, but if it does, it is clear to cause controversy amongst lawyers and regulators alike.