Neil Stevenson, CEO of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission said, “Over the past few years the SLCC has made significant improvements in its performance, driving efficiencies across all areas of our work. We now have the lowest journey time for complaints, which benefits legal service users and lawyers alike. This data is publicly available in our annual accounts, which are subject to external audit and laid before the Scottish Parliament.
“In citing the £1,300 amount for the cost of complaints when we were set up as a comparator the Law Society use a figure they know to be misleading, from their own data and from us previously raising concerns about its use by them.
“Of the 1217 complaints we received in 2008-09, 1014 (83%) were passed to the Law Society to be processed under the transition arrangements, rather than the SLCC doing any work on them. For the cases we processed, the cost per case, using the Society’s method of calculation, would be double what it is now, and so tells a fundamentally different story about our efficiency now compared to then. These transition arrangement ran into the 2010-11 operating year of the SLCC.
“The Society also still had a large staff working on service complaints at that time, meaning total cost of service complaints would be even higher. When they have previously used this misleading data we’ve called on them to publish their costs for that period, so the aggregate cost of service complaints across the two bodies can be seen. They have never done that. By comparison, every year of audited data for the SLCC is published as would be the case for any modern, transparent, public interest regulator.
“We recognise the frustration of the profession at costs. However, the profession may be being let down by a professional body which would rather use misleading data to grab headlines, which then generate extra unnecessary work in rebuttal, and working with MSPs, government and other stakeholders with our published data to show why the points made are simply untrue. It would be better to work collaboratively based on real data and evidence to look at options to improve the system for all.
“Our consultation makes clear that complaint numbers have fallen during Covid-19, and our draft budget, and the decision our board will take on a final budget later this month, will take account of the external context and the points raised in the responses we receive. It is likely, but not certain that levies could be adjusted based on changed business data during that period."