Commenting on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) draft budget for 2017/18, which includes a 12.5% rise in the levy paid by Scottish solicitors, Eilidh Wiseman said:
“At a time when the public sector is facing pressure to control its costs, it is unacceptable for the SLCC to come forward with a such a substantial increase in its budget, a cost which must be funded entirely by the Scottish legal profession.
“If a council proposed a 12% rise in council tax, there would be fury. If a train operator proposed a 12% rise in its fares, there would be an outcry. In bringing forward a 12.5% rise, almost eight times the rate of inflation, the SLCC will face deep anger from a solicitor profession which is becoming increasingly concerned at the way the SLCC is operating. Consumers should also be concerned as it is clients who ultimately pay for the SLCC through solicitors’ fees.
“The SLCC talks of a 12% rise in the complaints it receives but this equates to an extra two to three complaints a week. We find it difficult to understand how this cannot be absorbed in existing budgets. Indeed, the Commission’s own figures show that almost two thirds of complaints received are ineligible and do not proceed. Therefore recent increases in complaints cannot be justification for such a significant rise in the SLCC’s charging.
“With all the challenges facing the SLCC, it must focus on its core role as a complaints handling body. Other discretionary activity in its strategy which sits beyond its central role not only adds cost but distracts the SLCC from delivering the improvements it needs to make. This is why we will look carefully at its plans for the forthcoming year and consult with our members before responding formally to the consultation.”