New SLCC Chair: current legal complaints system ‘not fit for purpose’
The new chair of the independent body for complaints about the Scottish legal profession has called for radical reform of the regulatory and complaints landscape in Scotland.
Speaking at an event held at Queen Margaret University’s Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre, attended by complaints experts, consumer bodies and sector representatives, Jim Martin shared views from his first five months as Scottish Legal Complaints Commission chair.
As a poor example of “what complainers want from a complaints system”, Mr Martin pointed to the SLCC’s process as an example of a system which is overly complex, hinders proportionate and efficient operation, and has a lack of focus on the internationally recognised consumer principles. Nor, he argued, does it meet the government’s standards for ‘better regulation’.
“We are ambitious for better outcomes for the consumer and the sector. We agree with professional bodies that other complaint-handling organisations, such as the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales (LeO), and other Scottish complaints bodies they have pointed to, offer a much better legislative model, and better efficiency. We are pleased at the growing consensus that these are the sort of models to look to as we move forward.
“Comprehensive change is what is required. While we welcome the current collaborative work with the Law Society to identify what can be changed by regulation, we need to move away from tinkering with a system which is simply not fit for purpose. Lessons need to be learned from the mistakes made in the past. To achieve a complaints process which is fit for the 21st Century we must be prepared to embrace far more radical change.”
The SLCC continues to press for more radical longer term reform, and awaits the outcome of the independent review.