The Law Society of Scotland has protested over the "inflation-busting" rise in the levy on legal practitioners proposed by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in its draft budget published today. 

Solicitors would be expected to pay an additional 8.5%, or up to £30, to fund a 5.2% increase in the SLCC's budget for 2018-19 (click here for report). This follows a rise of 12.5% in 2017.

Society President Graham Matthews responded: "It is highly frustrating that the SLCC has chosen to come forward with yet another inflation-busting rise in its levy. It comes over and above the massive budget and levy rise we saw last year which prompted such fury from solicitors who felt they were being charged more for a slow and inefficient complaints system. If passed, that’s approximately an 18% rise over the course of two years.

"A significant part of the rationale behind last year’s 12.5% rise was that there had been a 12.5% rise in the number of complaints. While we never accepted this argument, the most recent annual report from the SLCC shows a rise in complaints of only 2%. This further undermines the 5.2% budget levy increase now being proposed. The proposals, if implemented, will impact particularly on private practice solicitors with an 8.5% increase – more than double the current rate of inflation.

"Under its new chair, the SLCC needs to look at its budget again and deliver savings like we are seeing in the rest of the public sector."

Mr Matthews added: "Longer term, we believe the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission must be, just like the Law Society, subject to proper independent oversight. We highlighted this as an issue last year and hope the current independent review of legal services regulation will consider it and make recommendation on this later in the year.

"It’s important that we have an effective complaints system that works well for both the consumer and the profession and we welcome the fact that the SLCC is open to further debate on who should pay as part of its consultation this year. We will consult with our members before submitting a formal response and we encourage solicitors to respond directly to the SLCC on this year’s budget proposals."

The SLCC's deadline for submissions is Tuesday 13 March.