The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is costing more for doing less and must address its rising inefficiency with urgency, the Law Society of Scotland has said.
Responding to the consultation on the SLCC’s proposed budget for 2021/22, the Law Society highlighted how complaints numbers had fallen significantly compared to three years ago. Meanwhile, the SLCC is proposing a budget with almost record levels of spending.
Research undertaken by the Society confirmed the average cost per complaint handled by the SLCC had risen from £1,300 when it was first formed to an expected £3,300 this year.
Law Society Chief Executive Lorna Jack said, “After one of the toughest of years for law firms, the SLCC’s proposed budget fails to respond to the impact which COVID-19 continues to have on the legal sector.
“We all want to see an effective and properly resourced complaints handling system. However, the SLCC’s proposed budget means it will literally be costing more for doing less; with spending higher than three years ago, despite fewer complaints. This rising inefficiency would be unacceptable at any time. In this difficult period, it is an issue the SLCC must address with urgency.
“Last year, the Law Society stepped up with a £2.2 million package of support for the solicitor profession in direct response to the COVID pandemic. The SLCC’s response then was to pursue an above inflation increase in the amount it charged. At a time when the profession was in urgent need of help, the SLCC was wrong to increase costs for firms even more.
“This year was an important opportunity for the SLCC to correct this and bring forward a significant reduction in the levy. Instead, it has chosen a cash freeze, which fails to respond to the financial and economic pressures facing the sector. This is why the budget needs to be reconsidered.”