Expenses ordered against solicitor who delayed producing files
The SLCC has been awarded expenses in relation to action taken to secure files from a solicitor to investigate a complaint against him.
The solicitor failed to produce the file until the day before the contempt of court hearing against him first called. The court continued the case to allow the SLCC to examine the file, and on reconvening last week, found the respondent liable for the expenses of the petition and proceedings. The court made no finding of contempt.
Neil Stevenson, Chief Executive said, “This is now the fourth case we have seen proceed to a contempt of court hearing because solicitors have failed to comply with their statutory duty to respond to us.
“The cost of pursuing these files so we can discharge our statutory duty to investigate complaints is significant in terms of staff time, legal costs and court fees. Even where we are awarded costs, these can be difficult and time-consuming to secure and rarely cover the full cost of the action we’ve needed to take.
“That cost is passed on to the profession through our levy, and ultimately to consumers. That means ordinary people in Scotland are paying more for their legal services because of the failure of regulated professionals to comply with basic statutory requirements.
“That was understandably of concern to MSPs when we met the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee recently. In the absence of a substantive response from the profession and wider regulatory system to this issue, we have proposed new powers we think would help us to deal with these cases. We hope to see those brought forward as part of the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill currently being discussed in Parliament.”