Consumer bodies, equality groups and a range of professional regulators were represented at a round table at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission this week, as the SLCC hosted a discussion on sanctions in professional regulation.
The event was structured around the draft guide produced by the SLCC’s oversight team to aid legal professional organisations in drafting their own guidance, promoting consistency and transparency in the application of sanctions for disciplinary matters, where the conduct of legal practitioners has been found to amount to either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.
Topics covered included the different functions of sanctions – punitive, restorative or preventative, along with practical aspects such as qualitative assessment of the effectiveness of training and supervision orders.
The need to manage the expectations of consumers in regulatory processes was also discussed – whether action is taken to provide redress to those affected or to protect the public. Transparency in decision making was also highlighted, including considerations for and against publishing when professionals are sanctioned.
Thanking the attendees, SLCC chief executive Neil Stevenson commented: “We’re hugely grateful for the input of those who attended. There was a lot covered and some very useful lessons for us. We’re now considering how we can build these into our sanctions guide.
“Additionally, with talk of legislative change in the legal sector, and some position papers already published by other bodies, we discussed our plans to publish a paper of our own. We will also use this expert external input on sanctions to inform our position.”
The Law Society of Scotland is keen to see action early in the next Scottish Parliament to update the legislation regulating the solicitors' profession, and has published a paper setting out the case for change. (Click here for report.)