An urgent request to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to cut its pending general levy has been made by the Law Society of Scotland.
It comes in a second letter to the SLCC responding to its proposed levy and budget, as the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown began to be fully felt.
Lorna Jack, the Society's chief executive, appealed to the SLCC to play its part in meeting the statutory objective of promoting a “strong, varied and effective legal profession” by urgently reconsidering its plans. “We know the recent trend in complaints numbers has been less than last year’s forecast,” she wrote. “Similarly, this current situation is certain to impact on the numbers of new complaints coming to the SLCC over the coming six months. For these reasons, we are asking the SLCC to agree to an exceptional reduction in this year’s proposed levy. This may include a use of reserves which can be rebuilt in future years if required.”
In its original submission the Society questioned the SLCC's lack of focus on complaints in the vision set out in its proposed strategy for 2020-24, and the appropriateness of using scarce resources to lobby the Scottish Government over legal services regulation reform, “an agenda that reaches far beyond complaints handling and the complaints system”. It challenged the fifth successive above-inflation rise in the levy, which it does not believe “can be justified on the basis of previous increases and workload volume”.
Publishing the submissions received, the SLCC said it was “currently considering the likely impact of the situation on our operational plan for this year and next, and may need to make further amendments on that basis as the situation develops”. A final budget will be laid in the Scottish Parliament in April.