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Access to Justice Act 1999

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This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

52Commissioner’s functions

This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

(1)If it appears to the Lord Chancellor that complaints about members of any professional body are not being handled effectively and efficiently, he may by direction require the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner to consider exercising in relation to the body such of the powers in subsection (2) as are specified in the direction.

(2)Those powers are—

(a)to require a professional body to provide information, or make reports, to the Commissioner about the handling of complaints about its members,

(b)to investigate the handling of complaints about the members of a professional body,

(c)to make recommendations in relation to the handling of complaints about the members of a professional body,

(d)to set targets in relation to the handling of complaints about the members of a professional body, and

(e)to require a professional body to submit to the Commissioner a plan for the handling of complaints about its members.

(3)Where the Commissioner requires a professional body to submit to him a plan for the handling of complaints about its members but the body—

(a)fails to submit to him a plan which he considers adequate for securing that such complaints are handled effectively and efficiently, or

(b)submits to him such a plan but fails to handle complaints in accordance with it,

he may require the body to pay a penalty.

(4)Before requiring a professional body to pay a penalty under subsection (3) the Commissioner shall afford it a reasonable opportunity of appearing before him to make representations.

(5)The Lord Chancellor shall by order made by statutory instrument specify the maximum amount of any penalty under subsection (3).

(6)In determining the amount of any penalty which a professional body is to be required to pay under subsection (3) the Commissioner shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including in particular—

(a)the total number of complaints about members of the body and, where the penalty is imposed in respect of a failure to handle complaints in accordance with a plan, the number of complaints not so handled, and

(b)the assets of the body and the number of its members.

(7)A penalty under subsection (3) shall be paid to the Commissioner who shall pay it to the Lord Chancellor.

(8)Where a direction under subsection (1) in relation to a professional body has been given (and not revoked), section 24(1) of the [1990 c. 41.] Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (power of Legal Services Ombudsman to make recommendations about arrangements for investigation of complaints) shall not have effect in relation to the body.

(9)No order shall be made under subsection (5) unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(10)In this section “professional body” has the same meaning as in section 22 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.

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