The body representing lawyers in the UK is threatening to launch a legal suit that could delay the arrival of a new government legal office in Birmingham.
The government announced that the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) could mean the creation of about 350 jobs in the city when it is set up in a year’s time.
But the Law Society has said the move risks breaching the employment rights of the workers in the department being replaced by the OLC.
And it has threatened to take legal action against the Ministry of Justice if things are not changed.
The OLC is believed to have agreed terms to move into Baskerville House, in Birmingham’s Centenary Square and any delays would be a bad sign for the city’s developers, who are still smarting from the MoJ’s decision to put on hold a decentralisation move it was hoped would bring thousands of jobs to the West Midlands.
The OLC is an independent ombudsman-style service investigating complaints by customers about law firms and the legal process.
It is led by a six-strong panel, including high-profile local businessman Brian Woods-Scawen. It will replace the Legal Complaints Service, which has offices in both Leamington Spa and London.
Justice minister Bridget Prentice said of the new jobs: “I do not want to lose the skills and experience built up in the old legal complaints-handling and ombudsman system, so staff already working in that system will be given first opportunity to apply for jobs at the new body in Birmingham.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice denied it had breached the regulations.
He said: “The assurance that staff would be transferred under the principles of TUPE has been in place throughout. The OLC hopes that a significant part of the staff complement of the new scheme will come from existing complaints-handling bodies, bringing valuable skills and experience and a desire to be part of this new way of resolving complaints.”