SLCC welcomes Law Society commitment to improve complaint handling timescales
The SLCC has today published an update report on its expectations for improvement to Law Society of Scotland investigation timescales.
In March 2023, the SLCC published a report on its review of the time taken by the Law Society of Scotland to investigate conduct complaints remitted to it. The SLCC’s data analysis showed that the majority of complaints investigations take longer than the Law Society’s published average timescale of 12 months to complete.
The report concluded that delays in the investigation of conduct complaints carry a number of risks, including public protection issues associated with solicitors continuing to practice whilst under investigation, and complainers concluding that their complaint is not being taken seriously, which may impact public confidence in the complaints process.
Using its oversight powers, the SLCC made three statutory recommendations for improvement; setting a realistic and achievable target timescale for the completion of conduct investigations, creating a plan of action to achieve the target timescale, and improving the transparency of communications with parties on timescales.
In response, the Law Society confirmed its commitment to reduce the time taken to report on complaints and has set out an action plan for improvement, which includes increased resourcing for regulation and improvements to communication with parties about expected timescales.
The SLCC has welcomed the Law Society’s response and committed to scrutinising its plans and the progress made against them as part of an annual cycle of assurance.
Sarah Hamer, Oversight and Assurance Manager said, “We are grateful for the Law Society’s constructive engagement with this work and its commitment to reducing the time taken to investigate conduct complaints.
“We will continue to monitor progress against the Law Society’s plans, and we look forward to seeing progress made in both reducing conduct complaint handling times and better managing parties’ expectations throughout the complaints process.
“Through our oversight of the professional bodies’ conduct complaints processes we aim to drive improvement and ultimately to promote public confidence in the regulation of legal services.”