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Industrial Diseases: Compensation

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what discussions he has had with the Office for Legal Complaints on agreements made by the Legal Complaints Service with solicitors in respect of the repayment of fees related to work on compensation for miners. (320989)

We are currently in the process of establishing the Office for Legal Complaints, which is on course to meet the timetable set by Parliament of becoming fully operational by late 2010. As part of this process, the OLC has been ensuring that it understands the landscape of the legal services market, including any possible areas which may generate significant amounts of complaints. The OLC has had discussions with the Law Society, Ministry of Justice and Department of Energy and Climate Change to make sure the lessons learnt from handling complaints such as coal health compensation claims benefit the new system of complaints handling, so that the new service is responsive to any demands that might be made of it.

Under current proposals, the OLC will not be handling any complaints raised in the old system. As such, it will remain the responsibility of the LCS to ensure agreements made with solicitors in respect of miners’ compensation fees are met. The LCS has received a total of 6,454 complaints relating to deductions. As a result of action taken by the LCS, including the project to work with firms to contact former clients, a total of £5,078,652.47 has been paid to former miners. This work is ongoing and the figure will therefore increase.

During the period in which the LCS is closing down, the Legal Services Board, as part of its responsibilities as the new oversight regulator of the legal sector, will be seeking to ensure that there is no detriment to consumers and the profession. The Ministry of Justice will seek regular updates from the LCS and LSB. The Government continue to support the work of the Law Society in their work to recover deductions not yet paid.