Why use this Guidance?
This Guidance gives some best practice advice on how to implement the Rules. Although this Guidance is not mandatory, compliance with the relevant Law Society Rules and this Guidance will be taken into account when we consider the complaint, and in setting any complaints levy for any issues that are upheld.
The SLCC can, and has, upheld complaints about inadequate complaint handling, sometimes even when the main issues of complaint about the work done have not been upheld.
The Law Society of Scotland and Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal rulings over the last few years have also clarified that:
- Your complaints process should ALWAYS be free to use – it is inappropriate to threaten to, or attempt to charge for your time in answering a complaint
- You should not exclude a client’s statutory right to complain from your Terms of Business, nor the right to have your fees assessed independently by the Auditor of Court
- You should not include any provision in a Minute of Agreement, or in a discharge, that seeks to exclude a person’s right to make a complaint, or threaten to bring court proceedings if they do not withdraw a complaint
- You need to respond to and investigate third party complaints, although you should tell the complainer that your duty of confidentiality may prevent you from giving a complete response. Third parties do not have to instruct other solicitors to lodge complaints.