THE Law Society has failed to properly investigate miners' complaints against their solicitors, a watchdog said today.
Legal Services Ombudsman Zahida Manzoor said the solicitors' professional body had failed to act in an impartial manner.
She is investigating complaints about solicitors who handled damages claims for industrial disease.
Hundreds of thousands of claims have been made for diseases linked with working in the pits and it is estimated the Government will pay out £7bn by 2011.
Many former miners and their families have protested about fees deducted by solicitors from their compensation.
Ms Manzoor's report said: "I was concerned to learn that some complainants or their families may have felt pressurised into accepting solutions that were not the best outcome for them. I was equally concerned to hear that some miners had given their authorisation for their MPs to act on their behalf, but nevertheless the Law Society have routinely bypassed the MPs involved and contacted the complainants directly."
Among a list of shortcomings, the Ombudsman said the Law Society had "failed to adopt a neutral stance when seeking to conciliate the complaint".
It had also failed to obtain relevant papers and failed to take account of the circumstances of each case.
The ombudsman has used her powers to make the Law Society re-investigate the cases.
The Law Society revealed today the number of solicitors facing allegations of misconduct who have been referred to the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal has now climbed to 45.
Chairman of the Law Society Regulation Board Peter Williamson said: "These figures are powerful evidence of our determination to deal firmly with any misconduct related to the miners' compensation scheme."
The Law Society added it was taking out advertisements to tell former miners who received compensation how to get help in checking their claim was dealt with properly.