Solicitor faces 156 claims to law body

One hundred and fifty six separate complaints were made against one solicitor over the past year, new figures provided by the Law Society show.

The regulatory body for solicitors show a further five solicitors had 20 or more separate complaints made against them in the year to the end of August.

According to the Law Society’s 2012/13 annual report, the number of overall complaints against solicitors is down on the previous year, with 2,477 admissible complaints made compared to 2,813 in 2011/12.

The Law Society struck off eight solicitors this year. That compares to nine in 2012.

Director general of the Law Society, Ken Murphy, said: “No particular significance should be attributed to the number of solicitors struck off from one year to the next, certainly not over as short a time span as two or three years, as many different factors contribute to an inevitable fluctuation in such numbers.”

Mr Murphy would not be drawn on any details relating to the case where 156 complaints have been made against one solicitor.

Mr Murphy said the society is not in a position to answer questions on the issue as it has been legally advised that to do so would constitute a breach of the Data Protection Acts.

The numbers of complaints referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal last year increased by from 116 to 181.

Mr Murphy said: “The increase in referrals to the Disciplinary Tribunal reflects the increase in complaints received from lending institutions about undertakings given to deliver title deeds and certificates of title to lending institutions.

“These complaints are a direct result of the explosion in residential and commercial conveyancing and the subsequent collapse of the property market, which left solicitors unable in some cases to comply with their undertakings.

“The complaints of this type that were referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal represent the relatively small number of complaints that could not be resolved.”

Admissible complaints for 2012/13 include 1,178 allegations of misconduct, 314 allegations of inadequate professional services, and 84 allegations of excessive fees.

Some 501 of 916 complaints dealt with in 2012/13 were resolved, 160 withdrawn or abandoned, and 153 were rejected.

Of the 2,116 complaints, 873 were made by solicitors against solicitors and 1,243 by parties other than solicitors.

The high volume of solicitors making complaints against solicitors is explained by a large proportion of those solicitors acting on behalf of financial institutions.

On how the Law Society deals with complaints, Mr Murphy said: “The Society has robust procedures in place to address regulatory issues and has developed and refined its regulatory role so that it can respond swiftly and appropriately when a problem arises.

“The Law Society Committee, which deals with individual client complaints, has a non-solicitor majority in its membership.

“In addition, the complaints handling system is overseen by the independent adjudicator who issues an annual report which in successive years, and for many years, has commented favourably on the complaints handling system.”


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