The Scottish Legal Complaint Commission's (SLCC) Budget for 2010-2011, was laid before the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday 29 April 2010).
Following a three and a half month consultation period, the SLCC considered points raised by the two larger professional bodies; the Faculty of Advocates (FoA) and the Law Society of Scotland (LSS).
SLCC Chair, Jane Irvine commented: "Efficiency savings made by the SLCC have enabled the Board to comply with a request from the FoA to increase the levy-discount for its members on the basis of proportionality of complaints."
"The levy-discount has been increased from 19% to 50%, which reduces the advocates' levy from £223 to £118."
The Law Society of Scotland asked the SLCC to consider reducing its level of reserves in order to reduce the general levy.
Jane Irvine continued: "We had to balance the LSS's request against significant risks to the SLCC from pending legal challenges; many of which were instigated by the Law Society of Scotland and are appeals to the Court of Session challenging SLCC decisions to accept conduct complaints."
Under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, conduct complaints accepted by the SLCC are referred to the relevant professional body for investigation with the SLCC overseeing the investigation.
Jane Irvine continued: "Consequently, it is these challenges that present the most risk to the SLCC as the outcomes may require the Commission to introduce significant and potentially costly operational changes."
"The SLCC Board is clear their decision to hold the level of reserves is the right decision and as a result of the legal actions raised by the Law Society of Scotland, we were not able to reduce their members' levy as far as we might have done through repayment of reserves."
"Since the SLCC first consulted on the levy, there have been opportunities to resolve a number of significant business issues and these, combined with efficiency savings, have enabled the Commission to reduce the general levy by £40, bringing the top-level figure down from £275 to £235."
Commenting on the future, Jane Irvine said: "To assist practitioners, the SLCC has set a policy on reserves which ensures that whilst we hold sufficient funds to carry out our statutory functions, once risk reduces, we can reduce our reserves further over time."
She concluded: "Under the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, the SLCC is independent of government and empowered to set its own budget."
"The Board and Management Team of the SLCC will continue to run the organisation efficiently and effectively, ensuring its operational future is financially secure and able to meet any challenges."
Under the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is required to consult with the professional bodies on its budget for the following year.
Under the terms of the Act, should the SLCC ever require extra funding, it is not free to borrow money without first obtaining the consent of Scottish Ministers.
The professional bodies are the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Association of Commercial Attorneys.
The SLCC's financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June of the following year.
The levy charges for 2010/2011 are:
|Solicitors with 3 plus years experience||£235|
|Conveyancing & Executry Practitioners with 3 plus years experience||£235|
|Solicitors within first 3 years experience||£118|
|Conveyancing & Executry Practitioner within first 3 years of practice||£118|
|Practising outwith Scotland||£78|
|In-house Conveyancing & Executry Practitioners||£78|
|Association of Commercial Attorneys||£78|
Levies for Conveyancing and Executry Practitioners are collected by the LSS.
Complaints levies are made against legal practitioners when a complaint is upheld. The complaints levies for 2010 - 2011 have not changed and are: