The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s proposed budget for 2019/20 risks increasing costs for consumers, the Law Society has warned.

The proposed budget, which is now out for statutory consultation, includes a 9.2% rise in income funded by a levy on solicitors and advocates.  It comes on the back of a series of double digit percentage rises over recent  years.

President of the Law Society, Alison Atack said: “It is the most vulnerable people in society who rely most on legal services, often at times of difficulty and distress. This latest fee increase will mean consumers in Scotland will bear even higher costs, with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission costing almost 40% more than it did four years ago.  Many firms could end up paying four times as much as originally proposed when the SLCC was conceived.

“There are a number of reforms which could be made to the legal complaints system, to make it quicker and more efficient.  We have been working with the SLCC on these measures and hope the Scottish Government can prioritise time to progress the changes during this year. Whilst these improvements aim to create a better complaints process, they have potential to save money too, which would be much better news for consumers of legal services.

“We will look at this draft budget carefully and will consult with solicitors across Scotland before submitting our formal response to the consultation.”

The SLCC’s proposed budget includes a levy on a solicitor of up to £494.  The original financial memorandum that accompanied the legislation creating the SLCC in 2007 anticipated an annual levy of £120.

The 2015/16 annual report for the SLCC shows that total income for that year was £2.704m.  If the proposed budget for 2019/20 anticipates total income of £3.719m for this coming year, this would represent a 38% increase in costs compared to 2015/16.

Members can email us their views on the proposed SLCC budget and levy for 2019 to comms@lawscot.org.uk by Friday, 8 March 2019