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Changes to client care documentation and Ombudsman complaint limit (update)
4 July 2015

There has been some confusion in the press over the last few days regarding the EU Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive (ADR) and exactly when the requirements of new Ombudsman scheme rules come into effect. Other commentators have added to the confusion.

LeO have said:

The Legal Ombudsman has applied to be certified as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider under regulations implementing the requirements of the EU ADR Directive. 

The Directive aims to improve access to redress for European citizens and to improve the consistency and quality of dispute resolution schemes. 

The Legal Ombudsman’s application is made on the basis that all necessary changes to its scheme rules will, subject to the necessary approvals, come into force within six months of the Directive’s 9 July 2015 implementation date. 

These changes will:

  • Increase the time limit within which consumers can bring a complaint to the scheme; from within six months of the service provider’s final response to 12 months
  • Align and amend the grounds for dismissal of a complaint to reflect those specified in the ADR regulations
  • Remove the current six-year and three-year time limits for bringing a complaint to the scheme
  • Set out how ‘stale’ complaints, which are too old to be investigated satisfactorily, will be handled under the revised grounds for dismissal 

The Ombudsman will shortly publish proposals for how these changes will be implemented. The proposals will not require service providers to make any changes to their existing document retention policies.

3 July 2015

LeO has confirmed in a further statement that the scheme rules changes will not be coming into effect in July and have indicated that they expect the changes to be implemented by no later than 9th January.

Note that both, the time limit following a firm’s final response will change, together with removal of the limitation periods for bringing a complaint.

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