SLCC launches budget and operating plan consultation
The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) should lower the levy on lawyers rather than keep it the current level, the Law Society of Scotland has said.
The SLCC has opened a consultation on its budget and operating plan for 2021-22 that proposes to freeze the levy on lawyers.
The consultation proposes a small reduction in the SLCC’s income and budget. The levy for solicitors, advocates, commercial attorneys, is proposed at the same level as in the previous year.
Law Society president, Amanda Millar, however, said: “The SLCC has justified inflation-busting rises in the levy in recent years by pointing to an increase in complaints received. Their annual report shows complaint numbers dropped by a substantial percentage last year, so according to their own logic the levy should likewise fall.
“While the Law Society has always disputed that the increase in complaints has justified the size of the increase, the SLCC should not have it both ways. If the two figures are to be linked when it’s to the SLCC’s benefit, they should also be linked when it benefits the profession.”
Complaints to the SLCC in 2019/20 dropped by 22 per cent compared to the previous year (1,326 to 1,036).
SLCC CEO Neil Stevenson said: “We commend the extraordinary efforts of many lawyers to keep cases and transactions moving for clients in the most difficult of circumstances. However, work for the SLCC has continued to arrive, and we need to play our part in ensuring that access to justice, in terms of our remit, is not hindered by the current situation.
“We welcomed the hugely helpful engagement with our requests for input on the impact of Covid-19 on transactions and potential complaint numbers. This has informed our projections, and we look forward to considering any further input to this consultation.”
SLCC Chair Jim Martin commented: “I am immensely proud that the organisation responded swiftly to ensure we could continue to deliver our statutory functions efficiently and effectively in this year’s challenging circumstances, while continuing to focus on improvements to our processes. We continue to monitor and respond to the changing external environment, and to prepare for the changes still to come. Plans for this are set out in our refined strategy and our 2021-22 operating plan.
“As well as improving our current processes, we continue to support reforms that will fundamentally improve the complaints and wider regulatory system.”
The consultation is open until 18th March.