'Abusive' calls to Law Society watchdog soar
Published 30/03/2011 | 05:00
STAFF at the office which oversees the handling of complaints against solicitors have been subjected to "an ever-increasing volume of harassing and abusive calls" by the public.
Carol Ann Casey, the independent adjudicator of the Law Society of Ireland, has confirmed in her annual report that she almost called the gardai last year after three complainants were "particularly offensive" to her office staff.
Ms Casey ensures complaints about the conduct of a solicitor are dealt with fairly and impartially by the Law Society. Her role is to be taken over by the new legal services ombudsman.
The Irish Independent has learned that preliminary interviews for the new position have taken place in recent weeks.
In what was expected to be her final report, Ms Casey said many of the abusive calls came from members of the public with "unreal expectations".
She said many expect the adjudicator to automatically side with them.
"I am in the dissatisfaction business," said Ms Casey in her fourth annual report.
"However, I wish to clearly state that I am not intimidated by any such complainant or claimant. I stress over and over that my impartiality is the core element of my work ethic, and it is fundamental to my position that I am neither an advocate nor an apologist for any party."
Ms Casey received 183 requests to investigate the way the Law Society dealt with complaints, compared to 146 the previous year.
She adjudicated on 136 complaints, compared to 113 in 2009 and also dealt with 19 complaints about the way the Law Society handled their compensation fund claims.
Last year, one in 10 complaints were upheld and referred back to the Law Society.
The majority of complaints filed with the Law Society relate to allegations of overcharging, shoddy work, delays and failures to communicate.
The society is also dealing with a surge in complaints by banks that solicitors failed to comply with legal undertakings.