SLCC launches consultation on reduced levy for 2022-23

SLCC launches consultation on reduced levy for 2022-23

The Scottish Legal Complains Commission (SLCC) has opened the consultation on its budget and operating plan for 2022-23. The consultation proposes a five per cent reduction in the levy for solicitors, advocates and commercial attorneys. This is the second year running the SLCC has proposed a reduction in the general levy for all lawyers.

The proposed levies will be reviewed again before a final levy is set. Complaint numbers continue to be hard to predict, and the SLCC is seeking further information in this consultation on factors likely to impact transactions and consumer satisfaction.

The draft operating plan focuses on delivering continued improvements in the SLCC’s complaint handling functions while supporting the legal sector to prevent the common causes of complaints.

It also recognises that while the SLCC has been able to operate normally for much of this year, this is in a significantly changed landscape and working environment created by the impact of Covid-19. The draft operating plan therefore highlights a focus on three key areas:

  • Delivering long-term change and a more efficient and sustainable operating model for this next context (focusing on people, IT and property)
  • External regulatory reform – embedding new functions and powers, and responding to the ongoing debate on complaint changes and wider regulatory reform
  • Ensuring the coordinated and integrated delivery of all ‘business as usual’ in this unprecedented change environment.

SLCC CEO Neil Stevenson said: “Following last year’s reduction in the general levy, we are delighted to be in a position to propose a further reduction for all lawyers. Predicting incoming complaint numbers in such a volatile context is challenging, but our ability to respond rapidly to changing circumstances and to continue to deliver efficiencies means we are able to pass on the benefits of this to the sector again this year.

“The proposed budget is set to achieve the successful delivery of our core duties – managing complaints and awarding redress, monitoring trends and delivering guidance and best practice support to the sector.

“We have a busy and challenging year ahead, but we are ambitious for what we can achieve in terms of improved performance, shaping a new operating model and driving much needed reform.

“We invite responses to the consultation on the draft budget and draft operating plan.”

SLCC chair Jim Martin commented: “I am immensely pleased that the organisation has not only been able to continue to deliver its statutory functions in changing circumstances, but to do this while driving further efficiencies. To see this recognised at the recent Scottish Public Service Awards was a real honour for our staff and board, and testament to all their hard work and ongoing commitment to improvement.

“Learning from best practice and our own experience over the past two years will help us to shape a new, more efficient and sustainable operating model, with a focus on our people, our IT and our property needs.

“In addition, we continue to call for and play an active role in shaping proposals for much needed reform that will fundamentally improve the complaints and wider regulatory system.”

Ken Dalling, president of the Law Society of Scotland said: “After years of rising costs against fewer complaint numbers, the SLCC has literally been charging more for doing less. The proposed reduction in the general levy is therefore good news and hopefully signals a long-term change in the SLCC’s approach. However, it will still leave the organisation with a record budget to spend, despite forecasting fewer complaint numbers than four years ago.

“Even with the planned levy reduction, the SLCC is showing an average cost per complaint of £3,200. This leaves serious questions over whether the SLCC is going as far as it should in controlling its costs and providing value for money.”

The consultation is open until noon, 17 March 2022.

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