Law Society comment on the SSDT annual report
In response to the publication of the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal 2014 annual report, Carole Ford, non-solicitor convener of the Law Society of Scotland Regulatory Committee, said: “The Society investigates conduct complaints against solicitors and will prosecute solicitors before the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) on serious misconduct matters.
“People rely on solicitors to do a good job for them and in the vast majority of cases, solicitors’ clients are happy with the advice and the level of service they receive - recent research by Ipsos MORI showed that 90% of solicitors’ clients were satisfied. However when things do go wrong, it is important that clients can be confident in raising concerns and that their complaint will be dealt with appropriately.
“This year’s SSDT report has highlighted the key areas where findings of misconduct were made. It would make very useful reading for every Scottish solicitor to help them understand the nature of some of the most common issues giving rise to misconduct complaints, as well as the importance of meeting their professional obligations and responding to both client and Law Society concerns.
“We have worked to improve our own conduct complaints handling processes and have reduced the average time taken to investigate complaints by almost a quarter, although individual cases can vary enormously depending on the complexity of the situation.
“Dealing with complaints is and will always be difficult for everyone involved. What we want to ensure is that the process in place is robust and fair to both complainer and solicitor, and that the right outcome is reached.”
The SSDT is an independent body and has the powers to use a range of sanctions from censuring or fining a solicitor, to restricting their ability to practise and in the most serious cases, strike them from the roll of solicitors.
The annual report can be read on the SSDT website. Annual Report 2014
Notes to editor
The Law Society is the professional body for all Scottish solicitors. Established in 1949, the Society regulates and represents solicitors and has an important duty towards the public interest. It has over 11,000 practising solicitor members in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and overseas.
The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), is the gateway for all legal complaints in Scotland and can investigate service complaints raised against legal practitioners in Scotland, who include qualified conveyancers, solicitors, advocates and commercial attorneys.
The Law Society of Scotland investigates matters of professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct involving solicitors. Complaints committees comprise 50% solicitor and 50% non-solicitor members. The Society may make a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct or can prosecute solicitors before the independent Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal which deals with the following types of business:
- Complaints about professional misconduct by a solicitor
- Applications for restoration to the roll of solicitors/to remove practising certificate restrictions
- Appeals by solicitors against a Law Society of Scotland finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct
- Appeals by non-solicitor complainers against failure of Law Society to make a finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct
- Appeals by solicitors/ non-solicitor complainers against the extent of an award or the failure to award compensation
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