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Law Society welcomes court ruling on complaints handling

13 June 2017 | tagged News release

The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed a Court of Session ruling on the handling of over 200 legal complaints.

The Court ruled that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission does have the power to re-categorise complaints issues already classed as hybrid, as either conduct or service.

Commenting, Law Society of Scotland President, Graham Matthews, said: “Our decision to take this matter to the Court of Session was a difficult one. There were clear public interest issues at stake following last year’s court decision and the uncertainty which was created around the handling of complaints with hybrid issues.

“The judges admitted it was a highly complex case.  The divergent views within the final judgment underline that complexity and show how difficult it was to identify the correct way forward. However, we now have the legal clarity we need, especially around cases where a decision had already been taken.  That helps prevent any attempt to unpick historic cases.

“We will continue to work closely with the SLCC to deal with all complaints that have been paused pending the court decision. We have a shared interest to always ensure standards for solicitors are maintained and that the public are protected on the few occasions when things go seriously wrong.

“These issues have again underlined how the legislative framework around legal complaints needs urgent reform.  Improving the complaints system, to make it more efficient and effective will form a key part of our evidence to the Scottish Government’s independent review of legal services regulation.”

ENDS          

Notes to editor

The Court of Session ruled last year, following an appeal lodged by Anderson Strathern, that complaints issues had to be classed as either conduct or service – they could not be classed as both.  The SLCC has since been classifying new complaints in a way which is consistent with that judgement.

The Law Society worked with the SLCC to try and reach a consensus on complaints which were already in the system and had been categorised as hybrid, but could not find a common way forward.  The Society took the case to the Court of Session to gain clarity on the proper legal route forward.

The case was heard before the court on 23 February and we received the judgment on 9 June. The Court of Session judgment is available to read on the Scottish Courts website

 

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