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Access to Justice Act 1999

Commentary

Legal Services Ombudsman

195.Section 49: Powers of Ombudsman. This section extends the powers of the Legal Services Ombudsman. It will allow her to make binding orders that a professional body or individual practitioner pay compensation or costs to a complainant. At present, she can only make recommendations. Before such an order can be made, the body or practitioner will be entitled to appear before the Ombudsman to make representations.

196.Section 50: Funding of Ombudsman by professional bodies. This section empowers the Lord Chancellor to order a professional body to make an appropriate contribution towards the cost of the Legal Services Ombudsman’s office. At present, these costs are met by the taxpayer. The usual practice elsewhere is for ombudsman schemes to be financed directly by the professions concerned. However, the Government does not intend to use this power unless or until a Legal Services Complaints Commissioner is appointed (see the commentary below on section 51).

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.

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