Law Society concerned by SLCC draft budget
The Law Society of Scotland has called on the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to focus more on its core role in handling legal complaints and go further in controlling its costs.
Responding to the SLCC’s consultation on its draft budget for 2022-23, the society has noted the SLCC is forecasting record total spending and questioned whether such a budget could be justified in the current climate.
Despite a proposed reduction to the levy which solicitors must pay, the commission’s draft budget for 2022-2023 does little to address previous fee increases that have significantly exceeded inflation in preceding years.
The SLCC proposes to reduce the levy by five per cent, while increasing the approved regulator fee payable by the Law Society by more than 230 per cent to £10,000.
The Law Society has written to the SLCC outlining its concerns with the draft budget:
- Complaints have risen by six per cent in the past 10 years while the draft indicates the SLCC budget has increased by 31 per cent in the same period.
- The SLCC’s costs per complaint are now forecast to have increased by more than 20 per cent in the past five years.
- Approved regulator fees payable by the Law Society over the introduction of licensed legal service providers would rise to £44,000 since 2018, despite the scheme not yet being open to applications.
- Providing effective and efficient complaints investigation and resolution is not one of the commission’s listed seven areas of priority.
Law Society chief executive Diane McGiffen said: “We have a shared interest with the SLCC in Scotland having an effective, independent and cost effective legal complaints handling system. Unfortunately, this draft budget indicates the commission still has some way to go in fulfilling that need.
“The commission needs to be conscious of the very difficult situation faced by solicitors at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the SLCC increased its levy significantly at the same time as the Law Society had decided on a £2.2 million support package for the sector.
“We would urge the commission to take a closer look at its budget, as it did to a limited extent last year, and implement a more efficient cost structure that is focused on its core business of dealing effectively and efficiently with legal complaints.”