The SLCC has published responses to its 2019-20 budget consultation. The consultation proposed a shift to a new funding model, freezing costs for the majority of lawyers, and moving the focus onto legal businesses rather than individuals.
Only a small number of consultation responses were received. Some were supportive of the proposed changes, while none disagreed. The changes would see business owners pay more of the costs of regulation and complaints, to reflect their greater influence on service quality and outcomes.
Other key themes from the responses are also being considered. The final decision of the SLCC’s Board on budget will then be laid before the Scottish Parliament.
The SLCC’s Chair Jim Martin commented, “We thought that such a big change might lead to significant debate and different viewpoints. In the end, there was no challenge to the proposed model. We’re delighted to be leading in rethinking what a modern, risk based, quality improvement focussed system looks like.”
The SLCC operates in an environment where complaints are rising, with a 22% increase in the last three years,and becoming increasingly complex. Commenting on one particular consultation response SLCC Chief Executive Neil Stevenson said: “We were surprised our audited complaint numbers, showing the increase in recent years, were challenged. Performance and accounts data for the SLCC covering the past 10 years since our creation is freely available on our website and reported to the Scottish Parliament. Annual external audits are also available on the Audit Scotland website.
“The complaint figures cited by the Law Society of Scotland relate to a period when the majority of complaints were still being processed by the Law Society itself. The costs and performance figures of their processing of complaints for this period are not in the public domain to allow analysis.”
“We are conscious of the comments on total costs and will continue to focus on efficiency work and an increasing emphasise on working with the profession to try to tackle the common causes of complaints.”
The responses were positive about the joint work on interim changes to the current complaints legislation. These are changes which may be possible before the wider legislative reform which is proposed by the recent independent review of legal regulation. There was also encouragement to keep making the complaints process more accessible, especially for those at risk of vulnerability. Finally, there was a focus on the need for efficiency, reflected in much of the proposed work for 2019/20.
All responses are on our website.