British Coal Compensation

House of Lords written question – answered on 20th July 2009.

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Photo of Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decisions by the Industrial Disease Committee of the Legal Complaints Service on 24 June (a) to maintain its recommendation to suspend the investigation of all complaints against Raleys solicitors in the British Coal litigation; (b) to write to all complainants giving them the right to ask for their cases to be dealt with but recommending that each case investigation should remain suspended; (c) to advise each complainant that the Legal Complaints Service remains optimistic that at some future time the complaint would be conciliated by Raleys, having regard to the report of Zahida Manzoor, Legal Services Ombudsman, dated 18 June in respect of Marko Sesum (case reference 44331).

Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We understand from the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) that from 1 April 2009 all complaints against Raleys solicitors, either already in the office or received after that date, would be suspended to await confirmation of the intention of Raleys with regards to any appeal against previous Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal adjudications. Such confirmation cannot be given until publication of the written findings. As at 13 July 2009 the number of complaint investigations suspended involving this firm was believed to be about 396.

We understand that the Legal Services Ombudsman continues to press the LCS to investigate individual complaints without waiting for the written judgment and that progress has been made in this matter. The ombudsman welcomes the LCS decision to write to those who have had their complaints suspended to give them the choice of either waiting until it is known whether Raleys are going to appeal against the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal findings, or for the LCS to begin to investigate their complaint. We understand that the LCS is currently in the process of writing to all former miners or members of their families who have a complaint against Raleys to provide them with an update to the situation.

Both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Energy and Climate Change continue to support and monitor the LCS in their programme to highlight the issue with coal health compensation claimants.

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