Too complex, too costly - SLCC highlights big opportunities to reform legal complaints


The SLCC has today called for the government to consult on opportunities to reform legal complaints handling, based on its experience of handling over 8,000 complaints.

The paper sets out six key priority areas it believes the government should consult on when they deliver on their commitment to launch a 'consultation to review legal regulation'.  The changes would benefit both consumers and lawyers, by:

1.       Unravelling the current complex complaints maze

2.       Reducing statutory detail that focuses on processes, not outcomes for people

3.       Ensuring that when redress is awarded the client receives it

4.       Targeting risk, and not seeing all legal services as the same

5.       Embedding the consumer principles

6.       Learning from complaints and data to improve future outcomes

Bill Brackenridge, chair of the SLCC, praised current performance but argued change was needed, "last year we helped hundreds of consumers reach an early settlement, and some areas of our work, like mediation, get hugely positive feedback from lawyers and consumers alike. We awarded over £400,000 of redress, but we also dismissed cases which were clearly unmerited, providing independent assurance and confirmation that a lawyer has actually provided an acceptable service. There is much to be proud of, but we are frustrated at a system which is more complex and legalistic than it needs to be. Based on feedback from lawyers and consumers, and drawing on expert evidence, we believe any consultation should aspire to improve the current system.”

Neil Stevenson, the chief executive, added "this is not about criticising current institutions or approaches - all organisations involved work hard to make the system work as best it can, and Scotland has an internationally well respected legal sector.  However, after years of minor reforms we believe it's time to engage the Scottish public and legal community on what results we are trying to achieve with regulation and complaints handling, and the simplest and most efficient way to do that.  We hope this paper provokes broad discussion, and that the fantastic opportunity of a review of current arrangements looks at big issues and not just adjusting technical detail with the current model.”

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