SLCC welcomes improved Law Society complaint handling timescales

SLCC welcomes improved Law Society complaint handling timescales

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has welcomed improvements to Law Society of Scotland investigation timescales since it made statutory recommendations last year.

A report published by the SLCC in March 2023 showed that the majority of complaints investigations were taking longer than the Law Society’s published average timescale of 12 months to complete.

It concluded that delays carry a number of risks, including public protection issues associated with solicitors continuing to practice whilst under investigation, and complainers concluding that their complaint is not being taken seriously, which may impact public confidence in the complaints process.

Using its statutory oversight powers of the Law Society’s complaint and redress functions, the SLCC made three recommendations for improvement: setting a realistic and achievable target timescale for the completion of conduct investigations, creating a plan of action to achieve the target timescale, and improving the transparency of communications with parties on timescales.

In response, the Law Society confirmed its commitment to reduce the time taken to report on complaints and is delivering an action plan for improvement, which includes increased resourcing for regulation and improvements to communication with parties about expected timescales.

Sarah Hamer, oversight and assurance manager, said: “We are grateful for the Law Society’s constructive engagement with this work and its commitment to reducing the time taken to investigate conduct complaints.

“We continue to monitor action and progress against our recommendations as part of an annual cycle of assurance. We’re pleased to see both the progress already made and a continued commitment to further improvement. This reflects work to improve processes to drive efficiency as well as increased resourcing.

“We are also pleased to see improved transparency and communication on timescales with complaint parties, both at the start and throughout the Law Society’s investigation process.

“Through this work we aim to drive improvement and ultimately to promote public confidence in the regulation of legal services. We look forward to continuing to work with the Law Society to realise the benefits for consumers and the profession.”

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