Following publication of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Annual Report today, Wednesday, 23 November, Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
“While it’s always disappointing if people are not fully satisfied with the work of their solicitor, it’s important that clients can seek redress when things go wrong.
“There are hundreds of thousands of transactions carried out by solicitors every year and the legal sector generates around £1.4 billion for the Scottish economy. While we cannot be complacent, particularly given the increase in complaints received by the SLCC, issues giving rise to complaints are very much in the minority.
“Although there has been a rise in the number of complaints received, there has actually been a slight drop in those deemed eligible by the SLCC over the last year. We will be looking closely at this year’s report to understand the reasons behind the complaints and work to ensure that we provide the right guidance and training for our members so that they can meet the high standards set by the Law Society and the needs of their clients.
“This annual report shows how critically important it is for the SLCC to focus on its core role and ensure the current backlog in processing complaints is reduced. There has been a 40% increase in complaints still in hand at year end whilst the cost of running the SLCC has increased over the same period. As we have stressed to the SLCC throughout this year, this deterioration in performance needs to be reversed. The SLCC which is paid for by Scottish legal practitioners, needs to ensure it is working to become more efficient and is as effective as possible as the gateway organisation for all legal complaints.
“The Law Society has been leading the debate in arguing for improvements to the wider regulatory system in Scotland and we have sought commitment from the Scottish Government to bring forward new legislation in this parliament to meet the needs of today’s legal market. We welcome the SLCC’s support in this.
“The current legislation governing the profession is now more than 30 years old and while many of the provisions in the Solicitors Act 1980 continue to work well, the legal services market has undergone huge change since it was introduced. We believe the current legal services market requires a more modern, transparent and responsive regulatory framework, which includes the complaints system as part of that, to ensure that the Scottish solicitor profession can deliver excellent legal services to clients and ensure there are proper public protections in place, particularly for people using legal services which are currently unregulated and offer no consumer protections.”