In the first report published as Chief Ombudsman for England and Wales, Adam Sampson, said that thousands of people are being ripped off by businesses that provide unregulated legal services, such as the writing of wills.
The Legal Ombudsman said that most complaints heading his way were to do with property law (conveyancing), family law and wills.
As only some legal services have to be provided by qualified solicitors, many will-writers and unregulated conveyancing firms have recently emerged, some offering a very poor service to consumers.
Commenting on the report, Mr Sampson said "One service which crops up a lot is will writing. It's a service carried out often by will-writing firms who aren't regulated. Because of this, customers are left with little means of redress when things go wrong.
"We've seen similar confusion about claims management companies, with lots of consumers believing they're getting a legal service even though most of the work is carried out by a non-authorised person. Again, we can't help."
In late 2010 the Legal Ombudsman was appointed, with the responsibility of acting on complaints from consumers. Unfortunately, complaints that can be brought to the Ombudsman have to be about qualified solicitors, so many unqualified advisors are escaping scrutiny.
In a recent article on the BBC, Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society for England and Wales, said: "The gap in regulation which allows unregulated cowboys to operate in areas like will writing does not just cause unfair competition to solicitors, who provide a regulated, professional service.
"It is also damaging to consumers because the unregulated providers are not insured, do not provide a compensation fund and are not covered by the Legal Ombudsman's scheme for consumer redress."
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said that it welcomed the report ant that will writing was “an important issue”.
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