The Law Society is still failing to give an effective service to customers who complain about solicitors, a watchdog has said.
Legal Services Ombudsman Zahida Manzoor said complaint handling was satisfactory in just 62 per cent of the 1,265 Law Society cases she had examined, up from 53 per cent last year, but down on the 67 per cent in the previous 12 months.
In comparison, she was satisfied with nearly 79 per cent of complaints handled by the Bar Council which she examined.
She said: "I am disappointed to report that the main issue arising from a consumer's perspective continues to be delay in investigations, poor communication, acting without instruction, providing misleading information and breaching confidentiality.
"It is evident in the work that I see that the Law Society appears to struggle to maintain the basic quality standards that it should." The Law Society's files were in a "poor state" when received by Ms Manzoor, the organisation sent letters to complainants to the wrong address and failed to meet its promises, the annual report said.
She added that she was still not witnessing required urgency in dealing with the cases she sent back for reconsideration.
Complaints about solicitors made up 87 per cent of the ombudsman's workload.
In all, compensation of more than £131,000 was handed out - including 309 cases involving the Law Society and nine involving the Bar.
One award of £5,000 was made against a solicitor for "distress and inconvenience".
The Government published plans for a shake-up of the way complaints against lawyers are handled last December.
A new regulator, the Legal Services Board, should be set up to oversee the Law Society and the Bar Council, but they will be allowed to keep their regulatory functions if they can prove their competence, said an inquiry.
A single independent body to handle complaints, called the Office For Legal Complaints, would be overseen by the Legal Services Board and would cost about £23 million a year to run, a saving of about £6 million on current costs, said the report.
Ms Manzoor urged the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, to ensure the OLC was truly independent and not simply the existing organisations under a new name.