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Legal Services Commission: Complaints

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) when complaints procedures were first introduced by the Legal Services Commission; and what the terms of those procedures were; (206632)

(2) what changes have been made to the complaints procedures of the Legal Services Commission since they were first introduced; and what the reasons were for such changes;

(3) what the complaints procedures of the Legal Services Commission are;

(4) what training and guidance has been provided to the Regional and acting Regional Directors of the Legal Services Commission on the terms of the Legal Services Commission complaints procedures; when it was provided to them; and how it was provided;

(5) what training and guidance has been provided to the account managers of the Legal Services Commission on the terms of the Legal Services Commission complaints procedures; when it was provided; and how it was provided.

The LSC’s approach to dealing with complaints is part of its overall focus on customer services. It strives to maintain the highest standards of customer service and effective complaint handling. Success at this is measured through a customer services score target. The LSC expects to have achieved its customer services score target of 90 per cent. for 2007-08.

When the Legal Services Commission was established in 1999, it inherited its complaints procedure from the Legal Aid Board (the body previously responsible for administering legal aid).

The LSC improved its complaints handling procedures following a review in February 2004. The complaints review team developed a new definition of a complaint and added a second tier review system to ensure consistency across the LSC. The new procedure was introduced in April 2004.

Details of the LSC’s complaints procedure can be found on the Commission’s website at:

http://www.legalservices.gov.uk/docs/cls_main/How_to_ Complain_to_the_Legal_Services_Commission_May_07.pdf

In terms of training, when the LSC’s new complaints procedure was launched in April 2004, all staff were notified of the changes and given access to the relevant guidance and policy documents on the intranet.

Once the new procedure was in place, specific training was provided on a local basis to complaint handlers who are nominated to co-ordinate responses, offer guidance to colleagues and maintain quality and consistency.

Account managers may be involved in drafting responses to complaints from providers. Regional directors deal with complaints only in exceptional circumstances.