More than 800 complaints about lawyers made to regulator

Most complaints allege misconduct and inadequate standards of legal services

More than 800 complaints about solicitors and barristers were made to the legal services regulator from September 2021 to March 2022, according to its latest report.

Almost all of the 822 complaints – 799 – were against solicitors, who have greater contact than barristers with consumers.

More than half of the complaints were inadmissible or did not proceed and 225 were resolved at an early stage.

The bulk of the complaints – 577 (70 per cent) – were of alleged misconduct. Just over one in four – 213 (26 per cent) – were about alleged inadequate standards of legal services and 32 (four per cent) concerned alleged overcharging.


The main areas of legal services that attracted complaints were litigation, family law, probate and conveyancing, reflecting a similar pattern since the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) began dealing with complaints in 2019. Multiple complaints may be made against an individual, the LSRA pointed out.

Of 811 closed complaints, 376 were deemed inadmissible and 342 were closed before a decision was made on whether they were admissible.

Of those 342, 225 were resolved with the assistance of the LSRA, 90 were withdrawn, 14 deferred and 13 others could not proceed for various reasons.

The LSRA made determinations in a total 36 complaints of inadequate standards of legal services and excessive costs and made directions for payments by legal practitioners of compensation to their clients of between €500 and €2,500. Other directions included requiring solicitors to transfer files to a new solicitor and produce estate accounts

The complaints included one on behalf of a barrister by the Bar of Ireland’s fee recovery unit against a solicitor over more than €15,000 in outstanding fees. It was resolved after the solicitor agreed a payment plan with the barrister concerned.


Another complaint concerned a personal injury action which was settled for an agreed sum and a contribution towards the complainant’s solicitor’s costs. The solicitor advised the client there was a shortfall in the amount of costs recovered from the defendant and provided a bill of €2,000 for costs to the client for that shortfall. The woman complained to the LSRA the solicitor should have sought her consent before accepting a contribution towards the costs, which meant she had to pay the remainder.

That complaint was deemed admissible by the LSRA but was resolved without a need for determination after the solicitor offered to refund the complainant the €2,000 costs charged.

Speaking at the launch of the report on Thursday, LRSA chief executive Dr Brian Doherty said he was pleased to see an ongoing trend of a high number of complaints being resolved by legal practitioners and complainants through positive engagement early in the complaints process.

Consumer should be aware of “claims harvesting” websites which often target people looking online for information about potential personal injury claims, he said.

These sites are often set up by non-legal practitioners and operated from outside of Ireland, he pointed out. Details of regulated practitioners are available on the websites of Law Society of Ireland and the LSRA.

In response to the report, a spokeswoman for the Law Society said: “Solicitors have a duty to act as trusted advisors to their clients, to provide access to justice for those who need it, and to uphold the rule of law.

“The solicitors’ profession is grounded in values of trust and integrity, and providing the highest standard of expert advice and service to clients is at the core of this,” she said.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times