LSB confirms new Ombudsman Chair and calls for improved performance and accountability

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has today confirmed the appointment of Elisabeth Davies to the post of Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC). The OLC is the Board of the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales. Its Board members are appointed by and accountable to the LSB, which can set performance targets and approves its annual budget.

The appointment comes as the LSB and Ministry of Justice continue to work closely with the OLC to improve the Legal Ombudsman’s performance.

The priority now is to ensure the OLC has a clear plan for ongoing improvement and the Legal Ombudsman is delivered at an appropriate cost. There is also a focus on ensuring that the Legal Ombudsman maximises its role by gathering and sharing intelligence and learning with the legal professions in order to raise standards and prevent future disputes.

Elisabeth’s appointment has been approved by the Lord Chancellor and it follows her appearance before the Justice Select Committee on 17 March 2020. She will succeed Wanda Goldwag whose term of office ends on 31 March 2020.

Dr Helen Phillips, Chair of the Legal Services Board, said:

“I am pleased to confirm Elisabeth Davies’ appointment as Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC).

“The LSB has charged Elisabeth with the task of rapidly improving performance at the Legal Ombudsman and building on the information it receives about consumers’ experiences of legal services to improve services for everyone.

“The OLC must ensure that the performance of the Legal Ombudsman is managed robustly, that services are delivered at an appropriate cost that delivers sustainable improvements, modern technology supports its essential work, and that its staff are well-motivated.

“I am confident that Elisabeth will get to grips with issues quickly and help build and rebuild the confidence of both complainants and other stakeholders.”

Elisabeth’s professional and voluntary career spans the charitable and public sectors. A former Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, she is also a trustee of Support Through Court, who support people going through the court process without legal representation. In January 2019 she was appointed as a member of the Civil Justice Council.

The Justice Select Committee concluded:

“We consider that Elisabeth Davies fully meets the criteria necessary to fulfil the role of Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints effectively and we endorse her appointment.”

Elisabeth Davies said:

“I’m joining the OLC Board at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created real challenges for all of us, both professionally and personally, and this will be at the forefront of my thinking.

“Under Wanda’s oversight, the Legal Ombudsman has sought to re-establish confidence with those who hold it to account alongside those who use its services.  The improvement that has started now needs to continue at pace and I’m looking forward to working with the OLC Board and Legal Ombudsman staff, whilst listening and learning from service users too, in continuing this.

“Alongside this my unstinting focus will remain on quality and ensuring the Legal Ombudsman has in place a confident, capable and valued workforce.  In testing circumstances I’m very aware that the OLC’s oversight and support role will be more important than ever.”

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