SLCC Consumer Panel launches guide on vulnerable consumers
The SLCC Consumer Panel has launched a new discussion document for legal professionals and regulators on Consumer Rights Day today.
Building on the panel’s previous publication on the internationally recognised consumer principles, the guide is designed to help practitioners and regulatory bodies apply those principles when designing services to meet the needs of vulnerable consumers.
The guide discusses how we define vulnerability, how we should identify vulnerable risk factors, the different and varying degrees of vulnerability, and explores the significance of the power imbalance between practitioner and client.
Finally, the guide poses questions for regulators, service providers/firms and the SLCC and other complaint handling bodies.
Launching this guide, the chair of the Consumer Panel, Carol Brennan, said: “On Consumer Rights Day last year we published a guide for legal professionals and regulators which was designed to support the sector in considering the application of the international consumer principles.
“Working from that guide, the panel became increasingly aware of the difficulties faced by consumers of legal services who are at risk of vulnerability.
“In putting this guide together, we hope that it will stimulate organisations to consider how they can provide more effective services for consumers who are at risk of vulnerability in relation to legal services in Scotland.”
She added: “This may involve training for staff, raising awareness of complaint handling systems, and ensuring ease of access to, and use of, those systems. It also includes providing effective information and communication systems, including clear and transparent websites.
“We hope that this publication will be the start of a conversation with stakeholders about consumers at risk of vulnerability when making complaints about legal services, and we welcome views and suggestions.”