Advice for legal practitioners on service standards and complaints during the coronavirus emergency has been issued by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. It includes suggestions on managing client expectations as business practices are forced to adapt, and an assurance that the SLCC will take the current circumstances into account if complaints do arise.
"We will take into account the global challenge presented by the coronavirus in considering complaints and how these have been handled by practitioners", it states. "Many aspects of our decision-making involves consideration of what is reasonable, which is contextualised by many factors."
Among other points the SLCC suggests that practitioners publish a clear statement about their working arrangements on their website and otherwise, review their terms of business letters, be open and honest with clients where there are delays or issues due to coronavirus, or changes in circumstances, and be open and frank with the SLCC if there have been issues due to the coronavirus, and what they put in place to deal with them.
It will take into account what has been communicated clearly to clients, where changed business practices mean delays in keeping clients updated, reduced contact with or access to a solicitor, changes to the frequency or method of communication or to who will carry out work, or deciding not to take on or complete work where solicitors are unable to provide an adequate service.
At present it is continuing to accept new complaints, and manage complaints already in its system, allowing appropriate extra time for practitioners and complainers to respond to complaints, and provide files and supporting evidence. It will consider not contesting appeals which are made out of time due to the coronavirus.