If you disagree with the decision made about your service complaint, you have a right of appeal to the Court of Session under Section 21 of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.
The sort of decision you may wish to appeal includes:
- your complaint was rejected as not eligible for investigation;
- your complaint was rejected because it was premature;
- we refused to accept your complaint outside the specified time limit;
- we upheld or did not uphold all or parts of a complaint;
- you did not agree with the final determination (decision).
There is no right of appeal against a decision in a 'handling' complaint about the way a professional body has dealt with a conduct complaint.
You can only appeal on certain grounds. These include:
- You believe our decision was based on an error of law
- You believe we did something wrong in the way we conducted the complaints procedure
- You believe that we exercised discretion irrationally
- You believe our decision was not supported by the facts
If you wish to appeal you must not delay as an appeal must be made within 28 days of the SLCC's decision. You may wish to seek legal advice about lodging an appeal as the SLCC is unable to provide you with advice on this.
It would be helpful if you could contact us to let us know you have lodged, or intend to lodge, an appeal and who your legal advisors are. While the SLCC cannot change one of its decisions, we are keen to learn from our experience and your feedback is valuable.
At the end of the appeal hearing, the court can award expenses. This will include expenses incurred by the SLCC in preparing and lodging court documentation and time spent in court. The courts' normal approach is that 'expenses follow success'. What this means is that, if you are successful, the court may decide to make an award of costs in your favour. Likewise, if your appeal is not successful, you may be liable for the costs incurred by the SLCC. Costs can extend to several thousand pounds.
The amount of the expenses will depend on the amount of time that we spend preparing for the appeal and the amount of time taken to deal with it. Costs can include:
- fees for instructing solicitors and advocates
- other expenses such as expert witness fees and travel costs
If the court makes an award of costs against you, we will seek to recover the expenses involved in defending our decision. In this case, we will instruct solicitors to deal with any recovery of expenses on our behalf, after the appeal concludes.
When we are advised that someone has lodged an appeal, we will instruct our solicitors to deal with the appeal on our behalf. All communication relating to the appeal will be done through our solicitors. For that reason, any queries should - in the first instance - be directed to our solicitors.
After you make an appeal, we have to suspend work on your complaint until a decision on your appeal has been reached. If there is an ongoing conduct investigation, this may also be suspended by the relevant professional organisation.
If the court agrees with you and orders that we consider the complaint afresh, we will contact you to let you know what will happen next. If the court overturns the SLCC's previous decision and imposes a different decision, we must abide by that decision and take the action necessary to proceed as directed by the court. Again, we will contact you directly to inform you of how this affects your complaint.
In this case, the original SLCC decision will stand. Depending on what has been appealed, this could mean that the complaint is at an end or that consideration of it will continue as originally set out. If the original SLCC decision was that the complaint should be rejected, then no further action will be taken on the complaint.
If you are unsuccessful in your challenge, the court may make an award of expenses against you. If this happens, we will seek to recover expenses involved in defending the decision. We will instruct solicitors to deal with any recovery of expenses on our behalf, after the appeal concludes.