If a complaint is made against you, you might have questions about how to deal with it. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get about dealing with complaints.
As a legal practitioner, you have an obligation to deal with a complaint made about you or your practice by a client. You should not ignore the complaint and the SLCC would advise you to inform your Client Relations Partner. Your Client Relations Partner should contact the complainer with a view to informally resolving the complaint. The Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 prohibits the SLCC from considering a complaint about your service until you’ve had a reasonable opportunity to resolve it (currently set at 28 days).
In terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, the SLCC is the gateway for all legal complaints and these are:
- service complaints
- conduct complaints
- handling complaints.
Service complaints are dealt with by the SLCC whereas conduct complaints are referred to the relevant professional organisation. Where complaints comprise both service and conduct elements, the SLCC will deal with the service aspects and the relevant professional organisation will deal with the conduct aspects. The SLCC also investigates the way in which the relevant professional organisation has handled conduct complaints.
All complaints come through the SLCC in the first instance. We deal with complaints about the service provided by legal practitioners. Complaints about conduct are passed to the Law Society of Scotland, The Faculty of Advocates or the Association for Commercial Attorneys who will investigate them. However, the SLCC also has the power to deal with complaints about the way the relevant professional organisation has handled the investigation. The complaints process is explained in more detail in the complaints process page.
Under the legislation, the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, there is a requirement for the legal professional complained about (or their firm) to be given a reasonable opportunity to deal with the complaint in the first instance. So if the complaint has not come to you or your firm, the SLCC will advise the complainer to contact you. Where this fails to resolve the issues, the complainer can contact the SLCC so it can begin its role in the complaints process.
There are five stages to the SLCC process:
Each stage is explained in the complaints process page.
The SLCC will contact you and ask you to provide the relevant files. We will use these as part of our investigation, but information from the files is not copied or kept.
The SLCC may ask you to:
- reduce or refund fees
- re-do work and rectify any mistakes
- award the complainer up to £20,000
- the SLCC has the discretion to impose a complaint levy
- the SLCC may report the matter to the relevant professional body.