Explaining the terms we use
The following information explains some of the terms we use in our complaint statistics.
Our role is to act as the 'gateway' for complaints about the legal profession, to investigate complaints about the service provided by legal practitioners and have oversight of complaint handling by the profession and the Master Policy and Guarantee Fund.
The legislation which gives the SLCC its powers is the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007. Complaints received by the SLCC will be considered under the terms of this Act.
We assess whether complaints are eligible for investigation under the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007. The following figures show the number of cases we were unable to accept because they do not meet the eligibility criteria. The reasons for the ineligibility are explained below.
Premature conduct or service complaints
Unless there are very exceptional circumstances, the SLCC will not accept a complaint until the practitioner has been given the opportunity to resolve the complaint in the first instance.
Premature handling complaints
Handling complaints are complaints about how the professional organisation has investigated conduct complaints. The SLCC can consider how the professional organisation handled the complaint under the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, but we are unable to investigate the actual conduct complaint. The professional organisation should be given the opportunity to investigate the complaint and write to the complainer with their decision. If the professional organisation has not made a written response to the complaint, it is termed premature and may not be investigated by the SLCC until the relevant professional organisation has issued its final decision letter.
Body out of jurisdiction
These are complaints that fall outside the powers of the SLCC as they concern organisations not covered by the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.
Subject out of jurisdiction
These are complaints that fall outside the powers granted to the SLCC under the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, because they are not about the service provided by, or the conduct of legal practitioners.
Not a legal practitioner
The SLCC is unable to accept a complaint about someone who is not a registered legal practitioner as it would fall outside the powers of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.
Practitioner acting in a judicial capacity
These are complaints where the practitioner has been appointed by the Court or Crown to act in another capacity.
Conduct/service complaint or handling complaint made out of time
These are complaints that have been made outside of the time limits for conduct/service complaints and handling complaints.
Complaint is vexatious, frivolous or totally without merit
This is where the SLCC has rejected a complaint because it concerns something we consider to be vexatious, in a legal sense of the word, frivolous or trivial, or totally without merit. This means it is not considered a complaint as defined under the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.
Any complaints we receive and decide are eligible complaints about conduct, will be handed to the relevant professional organisation for investigation.
These figures indicate when a complainer has contacted us about something that is a legal complaint but then fails to submit a complaint form or when a complainer decides to withdraw their complaint during investigation.
Mediation is where both parties have taken the complaint to an independent mediation and have agreed themselves on how to resolve it. If the complaint is resolved it is closed.
These are complaints that have been investigated by the SLCC and have been resolved without a formal determination. At the end of an investigation the SLCC issues a report setting out our findings and recommendations. If the parties agree with the report, it is closed. Sometimes the complaint is resolved during the investigation and before a report is issued.
If the findings of the investigation are not accepted by both parties, the complaint is referred to the Members of the Board of the SLCC. Members will determine or decide whether or not to uphold the complaint and what action or compensation is needed to address the consequences of any inadequate service provided. Members make their decisions in determination committees of three, five, seven or nine Members with the majority coming from a lay or non-legal background. The Members' determination is final and if either party disagrees with it, they can appeal to the Court of Session.
These are 'live' cases from the previous period that the SLCC is dealing with at each stage of the complaints process.