SLCC must live within its means, says Law Society
The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) must live within its means and cannot be immune from delivering efficiency because it is funded by the legal profession rather than taxpayers, the Law Society of Scotland said today.
The SLCC, which is funded entirely by solicitors and advocates without taxpayers' money, published its draft 2013/14 budget for consultation in January. This proposes that most Scottish solicitors will have to pay an annual levy of £324, an increase of 1.8% on 2012.
In its formal response to the SLCC, the Law Society of Scotland recognised the need for a robust and transparent legal complaints system but expressed concerns over a further levy increase which comes on top of a £100 rise last year. The Society noted how the planned increase in the total SLCC budget sat at odds with the rest of the public sector.
Law Society Chief Executive Lorna Jack said: "We are absolutely committed to maintaining a robust and transparent legal complaints system and we recognise how the SLCC needs proper resources in order to effectively deliver its responsibilities. However, any increase in the levy paid by solicitors needs to be seen in the context of an extremely challenging backdrop with solicitors working hard to overcome tough trading conditions and an uncertain economic outlook.
"Our members are concerned by a further levy rise which comes on top of a £100 increase last year. We feel the rise in the SLCC's total budget sits at odds with the rest of the public sector where there is substantial pressure to deliver greater efficiency and reduce expenditure. We certainly do not believe the SLCC, as a body funded by the legal profession rather than taxpayers, should be immune from this wider drive within the public sector to live within its financial means."
The Society has also called on the SLCC to look at its operation of the current complaints scheme with possible statutory reform longer term to deliver an improved system overall.
Lorna Jack added: "During our consultation, a number of members raised specific concerns about the SLCC's operation of the existing scheme with frustration around the length of time taken to deal with complaints, service standards in general and the lack of clear and adequate reasons in certain decisions. We certainly think there are areas where the current system could be improved.
"Longer term and four years on from the start of the current complaints system, most would accept that we need further structural improvements. We are already working with the SLCC and others to identify changes that would maintain a robust system that protects the public interest but a system that is ultimately more efficient and places less cost on those required to fund it."
Notes to editors
The Law Society's full response to the proposed SLCC budget can be found on the website.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884.
27 March 2013