The Law Society of Scotland has asked the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to focus more on its primary role in dealing with legal complaints and to go further in controlling its costs.
Responding to SLCC’s consultation on its proposed budget for 2022-23, the company noted that SLCC was anticipating record total spending and questioned whether such a budget could be justified in the current climate.
Despite a proposal to reduce the fee lawyers must pay, the commission’s draft budget for 2022-23 does little to address past fee increases that have far outpaced inflation in previous years. .
The SLCC is proposing to reduce the levy by 5%, while increasing the approved regulation fee payable by the Law Society by more than 230% to £10,000.
The Law Society wrote to the SLCC expressing its concerns about the proposed budget:
- Complaints have increased by 6% over the past 10 years, while the project indicates that the SLCC’s budget has increased by 31% over the same period.
- SLCC’s costs per complaint are forecast to have increased by more than 20% over the past five years.
- The approved regulation fee payable by the Law Society for bringing in licensed legal service providers is said to be £44,000 since 2018, although the scheme is not yet open for applications.
- The effective and efficient investigation and resolution of complaints is not one of the commission’s seven priority areas.
The Law Society’s chief executive, Diane McGiffen, said: ‘We have a common interest with the SLCC in Scotland in having an effective, independent and cost-effective legal complaints system. Unfortunately, this draft budget indicates that the commission still has some way to go to meet this need.
“The commission must be aware of the very difficult situation faced by lawyers at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the SLCC significantly increased its levy at the same time as the Law Society decided on a support program of £2.2 million for The Sector.
“We urge the commission to take a closer look at its budget, as it did to some extent last year, and put in place a more efficient cost structure, centered on its core business of effectively and efficiently deal with legal complaints.”