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New Avenue for Legal Complaints in the UK
October 6, 2010
Thomas Mennecke
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There's a new way to file complaints that covers all facets of the legal industry in the United Kingdom - and it's called the Legal Ombudsman. It opened for business today at 8:30 AM GMT with the intent to make it easier for just about anyone to lodge complains against legal professionals such as solicitors, barristers, notaries, patent attorneys, and legal executives. Can you guess who one of the first complaints was lodged against?

One of the first complaints was lodged against Gallant Macmillan by an IT consultant named Marcus Williamson. As you may recall, Gallant Macmillan is the lone UK solicitor still involved with file-sharing litigation, at the behest of the independent label Ministry of Sound. Gallant and MoS have collected IP addresses they believe may lead to individuals illegally sharing MoS music. However, this validity of this data has come under file after the ACS:Law email database leak showed just how flakey the evidence is. And no one was happy that 8,000+ individuals now have their personally identifiable information leaked online. In his statement, Marcus covers his justification for going through with the complaint.

"I see this kind of activity as the greatest legal threat to the integrity of the Internet since it was created. I have repeatedly asked Simon Gallant of Gallant Macmillan Solicitors for details of the legal basis under which he is carrying out this activity and he has refused to provide the information requested. I have therefore been compelled to lodge a complaint with the Legal Ombudsman."

The new system is in place to "enhance the reputation of the profession" and simplify the "current consumer complaints system." They're probably referring to the SRA complaint system which already seems to hold enough bite – but it’s a legal organization. However, this new system is designed to be impartial and hold real power, since it has the backing of the UK Government – and therefore theoretically, the people.

And hey, it also has the backing of Which?, a UK consumer advocacy group that has been a thorn in the side of ACS:Law for the better part of 2010.

"The arrival of the Legal Ombudsman is a welcome step forward for consumers who use legal services. It is hugely important for consumers to have the opportunity to contact an independent 'referee' who looks at both sides of the argument, makes enquiries, asks questions and comes up with a remedy or solution that they believe is fair," said Peter Vicary-Smith, CEO Which?.

You can visit the Legal Ombudsman website here.

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