Under the SLCC’s Rules, there are strict time limits as to when we can accept complaints. The time limits which apply depend on what type of complaint you are making. You should submit your complaint to us as soon as possible and we will then categorise it, with the following time limits applying to the different categories.
Our time limits changed on 1st April 2017 - read our Frequently Asked Questions on the changes.
If the complaint, or part of it, is about inadequate service a practitioner or firm has provided you, the time limit is:
- If the date from which you were first provided with a service in connection with that specific piece of legal work is on or after 1st April 2017, within 3 years after the date on which you were last provided with a service in connection with the specific piece of legal work you are complaining about
- Otherwise, within 1 year after the date on which you were last provided with a service in connection with the specific piece of legal work you are complaining about
If the complaint, or part of it, is about inadequate service a practitioner or firm has provided someone else (what we call a third party complaint), the time limit is:
- Within 3 years after the specific act or omission you are complaining about occurring, if it occurred on or after 1st April 2017
- Otherwise, within 1 year after the specific act or omission you are complaining about occurring
If the complaint, or part of it, is about the conduct of the practitioner or the practitioner being convicted, the time limit is:
- Within 3 years after the occurrence of the alleged conduct you are complaining about or the date of the conviction occurring, if it occurred on or after 1st April 2017
- Otherwise, within 1 year after the occurrence of the alleged conduct you are complaining about or the date of the conviction occurring
When checking the time limits, we don’t include any time you were excusably unaware of the alleged conduct or inadequate professional services
- An example of this might be a problem when you bought your house that only came to light when you tried to sell it at a later date.
- This doesn’t include being unaware that you could make a complaint to us.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure if your complaint is about inadequate professional service or conduct – this is something we will decide.
If you’re concerned that you may be at or close to the time limit
You should send us a completed complaint form as soon as possible.
If we think your complaint is outside the time limit
If we think that your complaint, or part of it, is outside the time limit, we will write to you to ask for your comments, including whether there are any exceptional circumstances that mean that we should accept the complaint outside the time limits and what evidence you can provide us to support this.
Exceptional circumstances/ exceptional reasons/ public interest
The only time that we can accept a complaint outside the time limits is when we think that:
- There are exceptional reasons why the complaint was not made sooner;
- There are exceptional circumstances relating to the nature of the complaint;or
- It is in the public interest to proceed to take further steps in respect of the complaint.
Exceptional reasons may include:
- A serious medical condition or a significant time in hospital
- A serious medical condition of a close relative when you were the main carer, if this prevented you from making your complaint
- Certain personal circumstances that made complaining difficult - for example, serving in the armed forces in a war zone
These would not normally include:
- Not knowing about the SLCC or our time limits
- A medical condition that only affected you for a short period of the time in question
- A prolonged medical condition that wouldn’t have prevented you from making a complaint
- Being too busy
Exceptional circumstances may include:
- The seriousness of the allegations
Public interest reasons may include:
- The allegations are of a wider public interest - for example, allegations of theft or fraud.
Re-assessing time limits
If new information comes to light during our investigation that suggests the complaint or part of it may be outside the time limit, we may check the time limit again before we continue investigating.
Additional time limits
If your complaint is about inadequate professional service before January 1989, we will be unable to accept it as there was no legislative concept of inadequate professional service before this date.
Any other queries relating to time limits
Contact our Enquiries team on 0131 201 2130 or email email@example.com.
Note, we won’t be able to assess time limits over the phone for you.
This information is an overview of our time limits. Detailed information is available in our Rules.