The SLCC will implement updated Rules from 1 April 2023. Our current Rules were last updated in 2016, and we are required to keep them under review, so an update is timely.
We specifically wanted to ensure that they reflect a digital focus in our operations and engagement with the profession. Our 2020-24 strategy committed us to moving to a digital first approach, and the experience of the last few years has only underlined the importance of this. The changes made take account of the changing external landscape and norms, including technology, communication methods and administrative tools.
We also took the opportunity to respond to specific issues where we identified that a change in the Rules would be desirable to update or to clarify our processes and procedures, or to help us improve our efficiency.
Finally, with the introduction of alternative business structures in the legal services market in Scotland, the SLCC has new powers to act as the complaints body for both licensed legal services providers and approved regulators, and our updated Rules include technical updates in relation to this new role.
The full updated version of the Rules are attached for information. Some of the key updates from the 2016 version of our Rules are outlined below.
Removing unnecessary barriers to digital processes throughout the complaints process, including clarifying that, where appropriate, communications can be sent by electronic means, and that mediations, oral hearings and determination committees can take place using digital channels.
Simplifying the requirements to make a complaint to remove unnecessary administrative barriers, to clarify when a complaint is deemed to have been registered by the SLCC, and the information required by the SLCC in order to register a complaint.
Allowing the SLCC to specify the form in which information required from practitioners or firms could most usefully be provided, in order to assist a transition to use of digital formats which will reduce delay and cost.
Updating the section on confidentiality to ensure that the Rules comply with current confidentiality and data processing requirements.
Updating the section on time limits in recognition of the time elapsed since the last changes to time limits came into force, bringing all complaints in line with the three-year time limit. In practice, this only has implications for a small number of service complaints where the service was first instructed pre-April 2017. We have also clarified the circumstances in which the SLCC may accept a complaint that has not been made within the specified time limits.
Highlighting our focus on resolution, and the steps we make take to facilitate this.
Making provision for the SLCC’s new powers and processes in relation to complaints about licensed legal services providers and approved regulators, as part of the Alternative Business Structures scheme.