The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is to host a roundtable on the application of disciplinary sanctions on lawyers in Scotland.
In addition to being a single point of contact for all legal complaints, the SLCC also oversees how complaints about an individual’s conduct are dealt with by the relevant professional organisations (principally the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates). As part of this work, the Law Society of Scotland has already agreed to our recommendation on the application of sanctions. In particular, we highlighted the need for comprehensive published guidance on sanctions where there has been a finding of Unsatisfactory Professional Conduct.
The SLCC has now produced a draft guide for the professional organisations to refer to when drafting their own sanctions guidance. The guide will be used at the roundtable to lead the discussion between various bodies on the consistent application of sanctions.
David Buchanan-Cook, Head of Oversight for the SLCC, said “We know that all bodies in the sector are keen to work together to ensure clear and consistent approaches where possible, which helps consumers and lawyers know where they stand. The issue around sanctions can be complex. There are aggravations and mitigations to consider, the intention of the sanction – is it deterrence or redress, actual loss vs compensation for distress - whether training or exclusion better protects the public, to name just a few. Each organisation has its own rules, and each case is different, so this is not about standardisation but about creating a common reflective framework to aid discussion about what is appropriate and ensure we are at least considering the same factors. I think Alison Marron, our Oversight Manager, has done an impressive job in developing the draft, but part of the purpose of this event is to seek feedback from other experts to ensure the finished product is a useful tool for all.”
The roundtable event will be attended by representatives from the legal profession, representatives from other regulatory schemes, consumer groups, and other stakeholders.