October 17, 2005

Failure of self-regulation 'not new revelation'

One in Four

IT would be crass and insensitive to suggest that issues relating to solicitors' charges are the most important concern of claimants before the Residential Redress Board.

In agreeing to comment on callers' complaints to Joe Duffy's programme about overcharging, it must be stressed that I do so only in the wider context. One cannot hope to address the anger, hurt and ongoing pain of victims of child abuse.

The most surprising factor is that people are so surprised. Revelation of this failure of self-regulation is not new. Since introduction of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 it is unlawful for solicitors to deduct a percentage of a clients' compensation as the basis of any charges. But laws are no good if we do not have active enforcement. It has been known for over 10 years that the 1994 legislation is not being respected by all members of the profession. Among recommendations made by the Motor Insurance Advisory Board in its report published in April 2002 were the following two:

"That the draft 1998 legislation on advertising by solicitors be progressed, with the additional requirement that all advertisements quote a revised rule by the Law Society summarising Section 68 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994 which prevents a percentage being deducted by lawyers from the compensation awarded to claimants. If an entitlement to advertise for personal injury claims is secured under competition law, that sufficient information be displayed to enable consumers to make price comparisons between professionals."

Posted by kshaw at October 17, 2005 07:12 PM