Most people consulting a solicitor are satisfied with the service that they receive. Occasionally, this is not the case and people wish to make a complaint.

All complaints should be made to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) as they are the gateway for all complaints against solicitors in Scotland. We cannot receive complaints directly.

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If you are considering making a complaint, you should follow these steps:

Step 1

If you are not satisfied with a solicitor or a solicitor's firm, you need to raise your concerns with the firm in the first instance. Solicitors' firms have a client relations manager who will listen to your problem and try to resolve it. This is usually the quickest and most effective way of sorting out the problem.

You can contact the firm and ask for the name of the client relations manager or contact the Society's Public Communications team on 0131 226 7411 for that information.

The client relations manager has an important role in clarifying and explaining any possible misunderstandings and working to resolve your problem. It may be that a different client relations manager could step in if the problem relates to the client relations manager.

Step 2

If the problem is not resolved with the client relations manager, you may submit a formal complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), which is the gateway for all complaints against solicitors in Scotland.

This applies irrespective of whether the solicitor was acting for you and the type of work being undertaken. It applies to solicitors who may be acting as insolvency practitioners.  The SLCC decides if a complaint relates to the service provided or the conduct of a solicitor and whether the SLCC or the Society or both should investigate the matter.

If it relates to a solicitor’s conduct it will be investigated by us.

How we investigate conduct complaints

How does the Law Society investigate conduct complaints against solicitors? What's the process, how long does it take, and what are the possible outcomes?

Further information

It’s important to us that our information is open to all. We can send you a hard copy of our information leaflets and can, on request, provide them in different formats such as Braille, large print, on cassette or in other languages.

You can also use the textphone service, so if you have hearing or speech problems we can talk with you using this service. Our textphone number is 0131 476 8359.

Making a complaint about us

If you are unhappy with the way we dealt with your complaint about the conduct of a solicitor then you can of course raise this directly with our staff team. If you remain unhappy then you can make a handling complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

More information is available via the SLCC website.

If your complaint doesn’t relate to a complaint about a solicitor, then you can find out how to make a complaint about us.

More information about complaints

Following a change in the law in 2008 the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has been the single gateway for all complaints about legal practitioners in Scotland. The SLCC determines the nature of the complaint and if the complaint concerns the conduct of a solicitor then this will be passed to the Law Society to deal with. Complaints regarding the service provided by a solicitor or firm of solicitors are dealt with solely by the SLCC.

No, neither the Law Society nor the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission make any charge for investigating complaints against solicitors.

If there are elements of both service and conduct in a complaint, the Law Society and the SLCC will deal with each part of the complaint accordingly – the SLCC will investigate the service part, and the Law Society will investigate the conduct part.

If you are having problems with a solicitor, you need to raise your concerns with the firm in the first instance. Solicitors' firms have a client relations partner or officer who will listen to your problem and try to resolve it. This is usually the quickest and most effective way of sorting out the problem.

You could contact the firm and ask for the name of the client relations partner or contact the Registrars Department of the Society on: 0131 226 7411 for that information.

The client relations partner has an important role in clarifying and explaining any possible misunderstandings from an objective point of view at an early stage. It may be that a second or reserve client relations partner could step in if the problem relates to the client relations partner.

Sole practitioners must operate a different system and a possible solution is for a sole practitioner to agree to "swap" such problems with another sole practitioner although it is understood this may not be acceptable. Another possibility may be for the solicitor to seek assistance in resolving the concerns through the local faculty, or other colleagues.

All firms should inform clients about their internal complaints procedure when issuing the “Terms of Business” letter at the start of a transaction or series of transactions. client relations partners are also required to keep written records of how they deal with any queries or problems and how these are resolved, where this occurs.

Where a complaint is received in writing, the client relations partner should write back quickly to acknowledge the complaint. They will then speak to the person or persons within the firm handling the transaction and will carefully read the file in order to gain an up to date understanding of the particular situation.

You may then be invited to a meeting with the client relations partner at which your concerns can be discussed and perhaps resolved.

If you do not prefer to attend a meeting, the client relations partner will set aside time to speak to you on the telephone. In that case a note of all that was discussed and agreed will be taken and sent to you for your records. In addition, after any meeting or telephone discussion the client relations partner will write to you to summarise what was discussed and agreed as the way forward.

Before considering making a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), please make sure that you have done everything you can to resolve the matter directly with the firm.

If you have not done so, the SLCC will refer you back to the client relations partner to follow the firm’s internal complaints procedure before it will consider your complaint.

It's possible to complain about the actions of a solicitor who does not act for you. Complaints of this nature require to be submitted to the SLCC in the same way as all other solicitor complaints. Where the complaint relates to the service being provided by the solicitor to his or her own client, the SLCC will deal with it; where the complaint relates to the solicitor's professional conduct, it will be referred to the Law Society to investigate.

We aim to investigate all complaints as quickly as possible, but our investigations require to be thorough, and to comply with the law. Our target is to complete our investigation within 8 months from the date on which the complaint is referred to us by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. Straightforward investigations will often be completed in a quicker time, but more complicated investigations can take longer than that.

The Law Society has the power to make findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct, or to prosecute complaints of professional misconduct to the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

If, after investigation, the Law Society upholds a conduct complaint as unsatisfactory professional conduct, it has the power to censure the solicitor, to direct the solicitor to undergo further training, to impose a fine, or to award compensation of up to £5,000 to the complainer.

If, after a prosecution, the SSDT finds a solicitor guilty of professional misconduct, it has the power to censure the solicitor, to impose a fine, to award compensation of up to £5,000 to the complainer, to impose restrictions on the solicitor's practising certificate, to suspend the solicitor from practise, or to strike the solicitor's name from the roll of solicitors.

Yes, you can make a complaint about a firm which is no longer trading or a solicitor who is no longer practising. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has time limits for accepting complaints, and will be able to advise you if your complaint has been made in time.

Neither the Law Society nor the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has the power to investigate complaints raised about a Sheriff or Judge in relation to the way they have handled court proceedings. If you wish to complain about the personal conduct of a Sheriff or a Judge either inside or outside of the court, you should write to:

The Executive Director

Judicial Office for Scotland

Parliament House

Edinburgh

EH1 1RQ

or by e-mail to judicialofficeforscotland@scotcourts.gov.uk. Further information can be obtained at the Judiciary of Scotland website.

Neither the Law Society nor the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission have the power to investigate allegations of criminal activity by a solicitor. These should be reported to the police.

If the Crown Counsel or Procurator Fiscal is an enrolled solicitor, then complaints may be raised against them with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC). If the SLCC decides that there is an eligible conduct complaint, then it will be referred to the Law Society for investigation.

However, neither the Law Society nor the SLCC can consider complaints about decisions made by Crown Counsel or a Procurator Fiscal in relation to prosecuting a crime or investigating a death. Legislation provides that the exercise of discretion by Crown Counsel or a Procurator Fiscal in relation to prosecuting a crime or investigating a death cannot be considered as a complaint.

Yes, you can complain about the service you have received from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.  The SLCC has a process for dealing with complaints about the service it has provided. For more information, please refer to the SLCC's website.

If you wish to challenge a decision the SLCC has made regarding your complaint, then you must lodge an appeal with the Court of Session. There will ordinarily be strict time limits for doing so. The Court of Session may be contacted by post at:

The Court of Session

Inner House & Extracts Department

General Department

1 Parliament Square

Edinburgh

EH1 1RQ

or by telephone at 0131 240 6748

Yes, you can complain about the Law Society's handling of your complaint against a solicitor, or about the actions of its employees.

Complaints about the handling of complaints by the Law Society are investigated by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. A Handling Complaint Form can be obtained from the SLCC's website. 

Complaints about the actions of employees of the Law Society should be submitted to

Lorna Jack
Chief Executive
The Law Society of Scotland
Atria One,
144 Morrison Street,
Edinburgh
EH3 8EX



or by e-mail to lornajack@lawscot.org.uk

The Law Society investigates conduct complaints against Scottish solicitors and has the power to determine if a solicitor’s conduct amounts to unsatisfactory professional conduct (UPC). The Society has a searchable database of a selection of UPC decisions taken by its Professional Conduct Sub-committees.

The Society can also prosecute solicitors before the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) for serious conduct matters. The SSDT is independent of both the Law Society and the SLCC. Its findings are published on its website. You can contact the SSDT by post at:

Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal

Unit 3.5 The Granary Business Centre

Coal Road

Cupar

Fife

KY15 5YQ

Past conduct complaint decisions

Our searchable database includes a selection of past decisions of our Professional Conduct Sub Committees in relation to conduct complaints made against Scottish solicitors which fall within this category.