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21 August 2012 at 12:44 BST

Lawyer naming-and-shaming plan set for autumn launch

England's Legal Ombudsman is to press ahead with plans to launch a name-and-shame programme for complaints about lawyers, despite strong opposition from the legal profession and a series of delays blighting the plans.

London weekly newspaper, the Law Gazette, reports that Chief Ombudsman Adam Sampson is planning to publish data for the first quarter ‘sometime in the autumn’.

Imperfect

The Gazette reported that in his blog, Chief Ombudsman Adam Sampson revealed and explained the decision, which will see some 900 complaints -- regardless of their justification -- being published on the internet.
The ombudsman said the published data would comprise ‘pretty much all the useable information we possess’, with the exception of the identity of the complainant. This will include the name of the lawyers and firms involved, the date of decision, what the decision was, any remedy given, and the reason for the complaint.

Although the process was described by Mr Sampson as ‘imperfect’, he argued that it is the best solution, providing transparency and acting in accordance with the demands of the British government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has called for the Legal Ombudsman to follow the example of the Financial Services Ombudsman in making information public.

Factual data

Mr Sampson explained that ‘given the choice between making an imperfect, transparent start or keeping information secret, our commitment to our values means that there really was only ever one answer’.
Anticipating allegations from the lawyers that the decision is ‘part of some campaign against the profession’, unfairly implementing the concept of ‘naming and shaming’, Mr Sampson clarified that ‘what we are publishing is factual data, not opinion’, and that the purpose of the policy is ‘merely one of transparency’.
The plans were scheduled to be implemented this month, but had to be postponed for discussions regarding the best way to present the data.

 
   
 
 
 

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