Making a Complaint

What you need to know

You must first of all give your legal practitioner the chance to resolve your complaint.

If you have not done so, we will ask you to make the complaint to them and it will be recorded by us as premature. We will also write to the practitioner to tell them we have done this. A practitioner is someone who is a solicitor, advocate, commercial attorney, conveyancing or executry practitioner.

If your practitioner is then unable to resolve the complaint, you should make your complaint to us on our online complaint form or by downloading, completing and signing a complaint form and sending it to us.

Important information -  Christmas period – submitting new complaints to us

Please note that our office will be closed to the public from 5pm on Friday 23 December 2016 until Wednesday 4 January 2017 at 9am.

If you wish to submit a Complaint Form to us during this period, we would recommend you use our Online Complaint Form  to do so. Complaint forms submitted in this way will be automatically acknowledged and registered as received at the same time.

If we receive a Complaint Form by any other method in between these times, the Complaint Form will be registered as having been received on 4 January when our office re-opens for business . Please be aware of this with regard to our rules in relation to time bar.

Click here for a copy of our Rules.

What kind of complaint do you have?

There are different types of complaints about legal practitioners and you can read a brief description of what they are below. 

If you would like advice about how to make your complaint from a member of our staff, you can call us on 0131 201 2130, send a fax on 0131 201 2131 or by email at enquiries@scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk

If you require assistance to complete a complaint form, please tell us and we will be able to help you.  

Conduct Complaint 

This is about a practitioner's behaviour, their fitness to carry out work and how they have behaved either in carrying out a transaction or outside of business. We pass complaints about conduct to the relevant professional organisation and these are the Law Society of Scotland (LSS), Faculty of Advocates (FoA) or Association of Commercial Attorneys (ACA). Complaints about the conduct of conveyancing and executry practitioners are passed to the Law Society of Scotland as they are responsible for their regulation under the Public Appointments and Public Bodies (Scotland) Act 2003.

More information on the standards of conduct solicitors are expected to follow is available in section B1 of the Law Society of Scotland’s Rules and Guidance.

Service Complaint

This is about the quality of work a practitioner has carried out, or which you think should have been carried out, during the course of a transaction.

More information on the standards of service solicitors are expected to follow is available in the Law Society of Scotland’s Standards of Service guidance.

You can complain about service, conduct, or both 

You can fill in the complaint form and we will assess what type of complaint you have. If you would like to speak to someone about your complaint, you can telephone us on 0131 201 2130 or you can email us at enquiries@scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk 

Important Time Limits

More information about our time limits.

For Service or Conduct complaints

The SLCC operates strict time limits for accepting complaints, which require complaints to be made within one year of the service ending or the conduct occurring. However, the SLCC will disregard any time it considers that the complainer was excusably unaware of their concerns. If you make a complaint after the one year deadline has passed, it is unlikely that we will be able to consider your complaint unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

Where alleged inadequate professional service pre-dates January 1989

Complaints about inadequate professional service cannot be accepted if the alleged inadequate professional service pre-dates January 1989. The Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1988 which introduced the statutory concept of inadequate professional service, did not have retrospective effect and was not applied to complaints relating to events that occurred prior to its commencement in January 1989. There is no provision in The Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 (“2007 Act”), to enable the SLCC to extend the concept of inadequate professional service back beyond the commencement of the 1988 Act in January 1989. It would be necessary for the 2007 Act to make express provision for such retrospective effect in order to overcome the strong common law presumption that professional persons should not be subjected to disciplinary sanctions in respect of conduct that did not constitute a disciplinary offence at the time that it occurred. There are no such express provisions in the 2007 Act.

Unacceptable actions

There are rare occasions when complainers pursue their complaints in a way that can impede their investigation or have significant impact on the SLCC. The PDF Unacceptable Actions Policy (PDF, 244 KB) sets out our approach to the relatively few occasions when we consider an individual's actions or behaviour to be unacceptable.

For more information you can call us on 0131 201 2130, send a fax to 0131 201 2131 or email us at enquiries@scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk