Complaint information relevant to the Digital Economy Bill

The request was successful.

Dear Solicitors Regulation Authority,

I believe that whilst not currently subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the SRA has chosen to act in good faith by creating their own code under which you attempt to meet all FOIA obligations when information is requested.

In all requests I wish to know information specific to complaints initially made to the SRA (and not the LCS) unless separation is not possible, in which case combined figures are acceptable. This information is of interest to me for the potential impact of the Digital Economy Bill on the legal profession.

I therefore would like to request the following information:

1. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against Solicitors in 2008 and in 2009 (summarised by month).

2. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against Solicitors in 2008 and 2009 (summarised by month) relating to any form of intellectual property law.

3. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against Solicitors in 2008 and 2009 (summarised by month) made against a Solicitor who is not representing and has not ever represented the complainant (i.e. the subject of the complaint is acting for a third party whom is pursuing the complainant).

4. The total number of complaints received by the SRA on the conduct of solicitors relating to peer to peer intellectual property disputes (2008 to present, summarised by month); and the number of firms the complaints relate to.

5. The total numbers of complaints meeting the criteria in question 4 which are (or were) unresolved more than six months after initial complaint. Also, the total number which remain (or remained) unresolved after more than one year since the initial complaint was made.

6. The nature of any extraordinary circumstance which has prevented the resolution of any complaint meeting the criteria in question 4 beyond the 12 month target set by the OLSCC.

7. The average (or estimated) number of progress updates (i.e. more significant than an acknowledgement) provided to complainants in complaints meeting the criteria of question 4.

8. The number of complaints meeting the criteria in question 4 which have been resolved, and the average satisfaction rating from customer comments questionnaires provided for these complaints.

I thank you for your time and look forward to receiving your response to my request.

Yours faithfully,
John Fletcher

Joao Curro,

Dear Mr Fletcher

Freedom of Information Request - Our Ref: FOI/BS/354

Thank you for your email dated 28 February 2010 to the Solicitors
Regulation Authority (SRA) requesting information under the Law Society's
Freedom of Information Code of Practice.

You have requested access to the following information:

1. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against
Solicitors in 2008 and in 2009 (summarised by month).

2. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against
Solicitors in 2008 and 2009 (summarised by month) relating to any
form of intellectual property law.

3. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against
Solicitors in 2008 and 2009 (summarised by month) made against a
Solicitor who is not representing and has not ever represented the
complainant (i.e. the subject of the complaint is acting for a
third party whom is pursuing the complainant).

4. The total number of complaints received by the SRA on the
conduct of solicitors relating to peer to peer intellectual
property disputes (2008 to present, summarised by month); and the
number of firms the complaints relate to.

5. The total numbers of complaints meeting the criteria in question
4 which are (or were) unresolved more than six months after initial
complaint. Also, the total number which remain (or remained)
unresolved after more than one year since the initial complaint was
made.

6. The nature of any extraordinary circumstance which has prevented
the resolution of any complaint meeting the criteria in question 4
beyond the 12 month target set by the OLSCC.

7. The average (or estimated) number of progress updates (i.e. more
significant than an acknowledgement) provided to complainants in
complaints meeting the criteria of question 4.

8. The number of complaints meeting the criteria in question 4
which have been resolved, and the average satisfaction rating from
customer comments questionnaires provided for these complaints.

The SRA is a part of the Law Society but acts independently in carrying
out its regulatory functions. The Law Society is not covered by the
Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA) as it is not a designated authority,
but has adopted its own voluntary Code of Practice which closely reflects
the FOIA. The Code may be found at:

[1]http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/documents/d...

I am currently dealing with your request. Bob Stanley, Information
Compliance Manager will aim to respond formally by 29 March 2010 which is
20 working days from the receipt of your request.

Yours sincerely

Joao Curro
Information Compliance Officer - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (Ext 4539)
f: 020 7320 5685
[2]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Joao Curro,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Fletcher

Freedom of Information Request - Our Ref: FOI/BS/354

Further to my colleague Joao Curro's email of 01 March 2010, please find
below the response to your request for information under the Law Society
Freedom of Information Code of practice (the Code).

You have requested access to the following information:

1. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against
Solicitors in 2008 and in 2009 (summarised by month).

2. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against
Solicitors in 2008 and 2009 (summarised by month) relating to any
form of intellectual property law.

3. The total number of complaints received by the SRA against
Solicitors in 2008 and 2009 (summarised by month) made against a
Solicitor who is not representing and has not ever represented the
complainant (i.e. the subject of the complaint is acting for a
third party whom is pursuing the complainant).

4. The total number of complaints received by the SRA on the
conduct of solicitors relating to peer to peer intellectual
property disputes (2008 to present, summarised by month); and the
number of firms the complaints relate to.

5. The total numbers of complaints meeting the criteria in question
4 which are (or were) unresolved more than six months after initial
complaint. Also, the total number which remain (or remained)
unresolved after more than one year since the initial complaint was
made.

6. The nature of any extraordinary circumstance which has prevented
the resolution of any complaint meeting the criteria in question 4
beyond the 12 month target set by the OLSCC.

7. The average (or estimated) number of progress updates (i.e. more
significant than an acknowledgement) provided to complainants in
complaints meeting the criteria of question 4.

8. The number of complaints meeting the criteria in question 4
which have been resolved, and the average satisfaction rating from
customer comments questionnaires provided for these complaints.

Please find attached a spreadsheet with the requested information.

<<Request Response.xls>>
I trust that the above information resolves your request.

Yours sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[1]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Dear Bob Stanley / Joao Curro,

I thank you for your response to date, however I am slightly disappointed with the answers given to questions 5 and 6, and as such consider it a partial response at present.

You state in question 5 that cases have been grouped together, but you must have available the date the complaint was made and the date on which it was assessed and grouped into one of the three investigations. As such, you must be able to provide a figure as to the number of individual complaints that were logged more than 6 months ago (and more than one year ago) that have been grouped into one of the three investigations. I would like to know the number of complaints which fit these criteria, as stated in the original question 5.

You state in question 6 that you cannot retrieve extraordinary circumstances from your database. Whilst I appreciate you are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, you claim in good faith to abide by it. In which case could you confirm whether or not you hold this information (even if not in database format). It is my understanding that all complaints open more than 12 months must be reported to the OLSCC, and appropriate reasons given for why the case has not been closed within the target time. As such, there must be a record of the reasons for the extension for the investigation, as given to the OLSCC. I would appreciate this information.

I know you must be busy, but I'd like to request you progress this clarification request as quickly as possible, ideally fitting within the original time line of ~28 March. If this is not possible please let me know when I might be able to expect a response.

Thank you, yours sincerely,

John Fletcher

Joao Curro,

Dear Mr Fletcher

Thank you for your email.

Please find below the response to your questions.

Question 5

As all of the complaints were dealt with under 3 investigation files,
which would have a single point of completion, I had only answered the
question in relation to the investigations. The breakdown you have
requested is shown below.

The one investigation that has now been completed related to 14
complaints. The time between the complaint being logged and the overall
investigation completion was:

1 complaint that was 6 months old or less
3 complaints between 6 and 12 months
10 complaints over 12 months

The breakdown for the two ongoing investigations as at today:

139 complaints that are 6 months old or less
146 complaints between 6 and 12 months

To clarify:
6 months old or less relates to 0 - 183 days
Between 6 and 12 months relates to 184 - 365 days
Over 12 months - 366 days or more

Question 6

We did provide the OLSCC with a monthly report, which showed both the
numbers of Conduct and Redress Conduct files that were over 12 months old.
However, the OLSCC target on files over 12 months old did not continue
after March 2009. There was therefore no longer a requirement to produce a
spreadsheet that listed reasons for files being over 12 months old. This
data is therefore not held.

I trust the above information resolves your request.

Yours sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[1]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Dear Bob Stanley,

Thank you for the extra information, I now consider the request to have received a full response. Thanks again.

Yours sincerely,

John Fletcher

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