Appointment of the Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints Contents
Appendix B: Correspondence between Sir Mike Pitt, Chairman, Legal Services Board, and Robert Neill MP, Chair, Justice Committee on the recruitment process
Letter dated 17 October 2017 from Sir Mike Pitt, Chairman, Legal Services Board, to Robert Neill MP, Chair, Justice Committee
Recruitment of Chair of Office for Legal Complaints (OLC)
In accordance with Schedule 15 of the Legal Services Act 2007, the Legal Services Board (LSB) is responsible for appointing a chairman for the OLC, with the approval of the Lord Chancellor. This appointment is also subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by your Committee and so I am writing to you to inform you of the campaign and to seek your and the Committee’s views on the recruitment process before we advertise the role at the start of November.
The OLC is an independent body, established by the Legal Services Board and sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. Its role is to administer the Legal Ombudsman scheme, including to make its scheme rules, and to oversee that scheme’s performance.
A description of the role of OLC chairman is attached at Annex A and a proposed list of the essential criteria that we intend to look for in candidates is attached at Annex B.
Whilst the appointment is not covered by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the LSB will adhere to best practice in public appointments and has appointed Gatenby Sanderson to support the appointment process.
The selection panel for the appointment will consist of:
- Sir Mike Pitt, Chairman of the Legal Services Board, who has significant experience at non-executive level;
- Marina Gibbs, lay member of the Legal Services Board, who has significant private and public sector experience;
- an independent panel member with experience of public appointments sourced via Gatenby Sanderson.
We also anticipate that a senior Ministry of Justice official will also form part of the panel.
The timetable for the campaign is being prepared and is provisionally scheduled as follows:
- w/c 31 October - Advertising plus executive search by recruitment consultants
- 30 November - Advertisement closes
- Early December - Long list meeting
- Mid December - Short list meeting
- Mid January - Interviews
- Mid January - Selection Panel recommendations to LSB
- Mid/late January - Lord Chancellor approval of LSB decision sought
- February/March - Select Committee pre-appointment scrutiny
- 1 April 2017 - OLC chairman to be in post
Diversity of opportunity is something I am passionate about and is a particular concern of my Board. Both the advertisement and candidate information packs for these campaigns will make clear that applications are particularly welcome from women and from those currently working in, or with experience of, the private sector. My Board does believe that this post does require previous Board level experience. The search consultants will also be briefed firmly to ensure that the widest possible pool of talent is sourced for this important appointment.
If you have any observations on the above plans I would welcome them. Also, if there is anyone you wish to be invited to apply for the role, could you please let me know in your response to this letter.
If you or your officials would like to discuss this appointment I would be happy to meet and to provide more information as required.
I would be grateful for your response by 28 October 2016.
Annex A – The role of the OLC chair
As Chair of the OLC, you will report to the Chair of the LSB and through the LSB to Parliament via an annual report laid before Parliament by the Lord Chancellor. The latest annual report, for the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 is available here. As an arm’s length body of the Ministry of Justice, the OLC also has its own Accounting Officer and its own direct relationship with the Department and Ministers.
To lead the OLC Board in the effective administration of the ombudsman scheme for complaints about legal services and claims management providers in England and Wales. You will have a key role in developing approaches to ensure that complaints are dealt with efficiently and effectively.
As Chair of the OLC Board, you will have responsibility for:
- the strategic direction of the OLC and ensuring that the organisation is fulfilling its statutory duty as an ombudsman scheme against a background of good governance, evidence-based decision-making, proportionate interventions, cost-effective use of resources and the successful performance of the ombudsman scheme against agreed performance targets;
- leading liaison with the Chair of LSB and the Ministry of Justice with regard to setting performance standards, monitoring and reporting protocols, ensuring effectiveness and efficiency and agreeing on-going reporting arrangements as required;
- ensuring that new areas of jurisdiction are properly integrated and governed and that opportunities for further change are kept under review;
- protecting the independence of the Ombudsman in relation to the decisions taken;
- appointing the Chief Ombudsman and any other Ombudsman, as appropriate;
- keeping under review and proposing any changes to the rules and policy statements governing the way the ombudsman scheme operates;
- following the procedures governing the relationship between the OLC and the approved regulators and licensing authorities;
- maintaining trust and confidence in the OLC with key stakeholders;
- acting as an ambassador for the OLC and the ombudsman scheme, promoting and publicising its role by representing it externally in delivering speeches and contributing to debates at conferences and in committees;
- ensuring compliance with the general guidelines laid down by government relating to public bodies and ensuring that OLC fulfils any statutory or administrative requirements relating to financial accountability
- working effectively with the Chief Executive, Chief Ombudsman and non-executive members to provide strong leadership to the OLC to ensure it adheres to the principles of good governance and to ensure proper accounts are kept.
Collectively, the OLC Board needs to be able to cover a wide range of experience.
For the role as Chair, the selection panel will be looking for evidence of an outstanding track record of Board level leadership within a substantial organisation. This may have been gained in the private, public or third sectors and enabled experience to be acquired in the following areas:
- delivering improvements to customer facing operations;
- improving an organisation’s performance through the use and development of technology, such as sophisticated case management systems;
- setting an organisation’s strategy;
- challenging, guiding, supporting and holding to account an executive team for its performance;
- building constructive relationships and productive partnerships with a wide variety of key stakeholders;
- representing an organisation to a wide range of external audiences and being publicly accountable for its activities;
- working with Government, regulators and other influential institutions;
- demonstrating sound understanding of corporate governance, including experience of financial management (establishing budgets and monitoring and managing spend);
- expertise in a range of areas relevant to the OLC’s work, including consumer affairs, customer service, legal services provision, complaints handling and ombudsman schemes would also be valuable.
Skills and abilities
The following criteria will be explored further at interview. They need not be directly addressed in your written application:
- Excellent communication, influencing, and relationship management skills;
- Commitment to diversity and equality of opportunity;
- Willingness to take a stand;
- Strong intellect and sound judgment;
- Political ‘savvy’;
- High level of credibility, probity and integrity;
- Good understanding of the purposes of the OLC, its opportunities and challenges;
- Working style and suitability for non-executive work.
Letter dated 25 October 2016 from Robert Neill MP, Chair, Justice Committee, to Sir Mike Pitt, Chairman, Legal Services Board
Thank you for your letter of 17 October consulting us on the proposed arrangements for the forthcoming recruitment of a new Chair of the Office for Legal Complaints.
My Committee considered your proposals at its meeting today and it has no comments on them. We hope the recruitment runs smoothly and we look forward to holding a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing in February or March next year. Please get in touch with our staff nearer the time to make arrangements for that hearing, and if there is any significant change in your timetable, please let us know.