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SRA appoints new complaints handler

8 November 2010

The Independent Complaint Resolution Service, the body set up to hear complaints against the Land Registry, has been appointed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as its external complaint handling service.

Initially set up as the Independent Complaints Reviewed in 1998 under the aegis of the Land Registry, the service was operated by ombudsman Jodi Berg and still shares IT services with the registry, which remains the service’s principal sponsor.

Berg has since been joined by former solicitor Elizabeth Derrington and now offers complaint resolution services under the ICRS banner.

Clients include the Charity Commission, the Audit Commission and the Home and Communities Agency. Together with the Pensions Protection Fund Ombudsman, the SRA is the latest body to have chosen ICRS as it external complaint reviewer.

Unlike most recent changes to the regulatory framework, the move is not based on any legislative requirement but a desire on the SRA’s part to increase transparency.

“It’s essential that the SRA deals effectively and promptly with complaints about its services, and that members of the public and the profession have confidence that such complaints will be dealt with fairly and transparently,” said SRA chief executive Antony Townsend. “The appointment of an independent reviewer will help us achieve that.”

Individuals dissatisfied with the way the SRA has handled their case will still be expected to complain to the SRA in the first instance and exhaust internal remedies before the case can be escalated to the ICRS.

The new service will have complete jurisdiction to review all types of complaints not resolved within the SRA, including discrimination complaints, and the reviewer will have powers to order a review of the case.

It is anticipated that the ICRS will handle about 20 complaints a year on the basis of historical data but it is also expected that a number of complaints previously heard by the Legal Complaints Service will end up on the ICRS’s doorstep.

The cost of running the service has not yet been disclosed but will be borne by the SRA.

“As well as demonstrating value for money, the ICRS was successful due to their track record in undertaking work as independent reviewers for other regulators such as the Audit Commission and the Pension Protection Fund,” a spokesperson for the SRA said.

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