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Legal Services Act 2007

Section 137: Determination of complaints

355.This section makes provision for the ombudsman’s powers in making a determination. The governing principle, set out in section 137(1), is that the ombudsman must determine a complaint according to what is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. Sections 137(2) and 137(3) set out the directions which the ombudsman may make in a determination, namely:

  • that the respondent make an apology to the complainant;

  • that the respondent’s fees for the services to which the complaint relates are limited to a specified amount (and any other action be taken, such as a refund, which may be necessary to give effect to this);

  • that the respondent pay compensation for loss, inconvenience or distress;

  • that the respondent at their own expense secure rectification of any specified error, omission or other deficiency in connection with the matter under complaint; or

  • that the respondent at their own expense take such other action in the interests of the complainant as the direction may specify.

356.Section 137(4) allows for any amount payable pursuant to a determination to bear interest. Section 137(5) provides that the powers of the ombudsman in making a determination are not confined to cases where the complainant may have a cause of action in negligence (and so may be available in cases of “simple” inadequate professional service).

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