Responses to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission's 2019-20 budget consultation tend to favour the proposed shift towards imposing higher costs on legal businesses rather than individuals, the Commission said today.
While proposing an overall 9% increase in its budget for the coming year – a rise criticised by the Law Society of Scotland – the SLCC proposed two alternative payment models, one increasing the annual levy on legal practitioners by the same percentage for all categories, but the other freezing it for employed lawyers and advocates while raising the rate from £386 to £494 for partners and managers in private practice. The latter option is intended to reflect to reflect the greater influence of business owners on service quality and outcomes.
Only four consultation responses were received. The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service is the only one that expresses a preference on the proposed changes, which it favours.
The SLCC says it is considering "other key themes from the responses" before the final decision of its board on budget is laid before the Scottish Parliament.
Chair Jim Martin commented: "We thought that such a big change might lead to significant debate and different viewpoints. In the end, there was no challenge to the proposed model. We’re delighted to be leading in rethinking what a modern, risk based, quality improvement focused system looks like."
Chief executive Neil Stevenson added: "We are conscious of the comments on total costs and will continue to focus on efficiency work and an increasing emphasis on working with the profession to try to tackle the common causes of complaints."
Regarding a comparison by the Law Society of Scotland with original cost projecxtions for the Commission, he commented: "The complaint figures cited by the Law Society of Scotland relate to a period when the majority of complaints were still being processed by the Law Society itself. The costs and performance figures of their processing of complaints for this period are not in the public domain to allow analysis."