Our outreach and oversight work
At the start of 2021-22 we published a statement on our approach to discharging the powers we have to oversee and bring an independent view to the entire complaints process. The statement sets out our intention to work collaboratively and constructively with others in the sector to ensure public confidence in the complaints and redress system.
Improving conduct complaint handling
As well as investigating individual complaints about Relevant Professional Organisations’ complaint handling, we published a report on the time taken by the Law Society of Scotland to investigate conduct complaints remitted to it. This included three statutory recommendations for improvement in setting and achieving reasonable timescales for concluding investigations and in communications on timescales with complaint parties. We welcomed commitments by the Law Society of Scotland to deliver an action plan for improvement and we have confirmed an annual review process to monitor progress.
We started a review of Faculty’s complaint handling processes and will report on this in the coming year alongside updates on the above report and our previous work looking at the Law Society’s indemnity arrangements.
Improving complaint handling across the sector
We published a report on the initial engagement or ‘terms of business’ letters firms issue when instructed by a client. We reported generally good compliance with the basic requirements on client communications, but significant variation in the clarity, accessibility and accuracy of communications relating to complaints and common causes of complaints such as fees and scope of work.
We took part in a number of conferences and events across the sector on the common causes of complaints and how to deal effectively with them. We also spoke directly to firms on issues relating to risk management and complaint handling.
We also drew on feedback from practitioners to update our webpages on what happens if we receive a complaint about them, including providing clear signposting to sources of advice and support.
We also take opportunities to recognise good practice in complaint handling. We do this directly in individual cases where we can waive a portion of the complaints levy in recognition of good complaint handling and attempts at resolution at first tier and in firms’ engagement with us. We also use real, anonymised examples from firms in our case studies and outreach work to help firms learn from peers about good practice. The Bill currently under scrutiny refines our oversight powers further. Once finalised, we're likely to consult on and issue a new overarching statement on how we’d use these powers.