2016-2020 Strategy Consultation

We asked for your views on our draft four year strategy, and our operating plans and budget for our next year.

Four key themes dominated the responses.

Firstly, with hindsight, we did not focus enough on communicating our aims for the complaints process itself and our performance there.  We referenced our latest Annual Report in the consultation document - this had significant detail on our work in legal complaints.  However, we were strongly reminded that if this focus was not duplicated in the strategy document it could look as if our work plan were unbalanced.  We can rectify that immediately, as there is already a firm commitment to improvement on the first page of the strategy and we will look at adding further detail and context here.  That commitment extends to trying to achieve legislative change to make the process more efficient.  We know ‘lobbying’ was not seen as our role by some, but when we see the costs and inefficiencies of the current statutory model we do feel it is right to raise these to help benefit lawyers and consumers. 

A second source of comments was how much project work we undertake. Our operating plan had a similar number of projects and similar funding and staffing to the last two years, but in the context of the strategy it may have looked more substantive.  We now have a great chance to add clarity in two ways – better describing the small scale of many projects and their value for lawyers and consumers while also making the link to the relevant statutory powers more overt (we had removed this in the final draft for the sake of plain English).  We made clear in our budget consultation document that increased costs largely related to extra temporary resource we were using for what stakeholders flagged as our focus: handling individual complaints (with other increases coming from unavoidable property, pension, IT and training costs). Overall spend was reduced a small amount in our final budget submitted to parliament in relation to feedback on one specific area of work.

There was also some comment on specific projects and we are now going to amend or reduce in some in scale, and remove others, based on the helpful feedback.  We will continue to consider some, and continue to discuss them with stakeholders and further evolve the ideas for inclusion in a future plan.

Finally, there was much discussion about the consumer focus and language, and whether projects went beyond our role.  Few of the responses made reference to the legislative changes that came into force last year to establish a statutory SLCC Consumer Panel, nor how they would interpret the role set out for that panel in statute. There was a disappointing lack of comment on consumer issues generally. The Panel’s creation has increased some of the consumer input and focus of our work – while our decisions on individual cases must be completely independent and impartial, those who have less knowledge of legal matters and legal processes may need additional support to engage in the complaints process.  We believe we may need some research to understand what that is.  We also have concerns about consumers failing to receive redress, lack of clarity around fees and a lack of learning from complaints. When we see the same issues happen time and again to clients and solicitors, costing them both in terms of our process, it does not seem wise to keep the status quo where there may be simple fixes.  Making progress on these will save the profession and consumers money in the long run.  Even though not all the stakeholder responses in this area were positive, these are likely to remain strong themes of our work.

Once again, we’d like to thank all those individuals and organisations who responded to the consultation – the variety of perspectives have been invaluable.  There is a huge value to positive dialogue, and we plan more engagement before finalising our plans.

The consultation was made up of four key documents:

  1.  Draft Strategy for 2016 - 2020 (PDF, 1.3 MB)
  2.  Draft Operating plan for 2016-2017 (PDF, 715 KB)
  3.  Draft Budget and proposed levies for 2016-2017 (PDF, 847 KB)
  4.  Consultation questions,  on which we would specially value your views (PDF, 705 KB)

The deadline for responses was Friday 11th March. Our statute sets out that we must consult starting in January each year and must publish consultation responses by the end of March.

Final documents 

We laid our finalised budget before the Scottish Parliament on Monday 21st March:

 Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Budget - 01 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 (PDF, 806 KB)

We continued to discuss our 2016-2020 Strategy and 2016-2017 Operating Plan with stakeholders.  The final Strategy and Operating Plan were finalised by our Board in May 2016.

 Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Strategy 2016-2020 (PDF, 1.28 MB)

 Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Operating Plan 2017-2018 (PDF, 741 KB) 

Responses 

Responses to the consultation:

 Law Society of Scotland Response to Budget and Operating Plan (PDF, 153 KB)

 Law Society of Scotland Response to Strategy (PDF, 214 KB)

 SLCC Reply to Law Society of Scotland Responses (PDF, 175 KB)

 Faculty of Advocates Response (PDF, 205 KB)

 SLCC Reply to Faculty of Advocates Response (PDF, 171 KB)

 Scottish Government Response (PDF, 373 KB)

 SLCC Reply to Scottish Government Response (PDF, 168 KB)

 Competition and Markets Authority Response (PDF, 1,136 KB)

 SLCC Reply to Competition and Markets Authority Response (PDF, 92 KB)

 SLCC Consumer Panel Response (PDF, 123 KB)

 SLCC Reply to SLCC Consumer Panel Response (PDF, 169 KB)

 Alan Matthews Response (PDF, 185 KB)

 Brian Montgomery Response (PDF, 95 KB)

 McVey and Murricane Response (PDF, 453 KB)

 Blackadders LLP Response (PDF, 135 KB)