You must first of all give your legal practitioner the chance to resolve your complaint.
If your practitioner is not able to resolve the complaint, you should send it to the SLCC.
We assess whether complaints are eligible for investigation under the terms of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007.
Can my complaint be accepted for investigation?
- Has the legal practitioner been given a reasonable opportunity to resolve the complaint?
- Has the complaint been made too late?
- Is the subject of the complaint within the jurisdiction of the SLCC?
- Does the complaint meet the test of not being frivolous, vexatious or totally without merit?
- Does the complaint meet other criteria set out in the 2007 Act?
We make limited enquiries to ensure that we have enough information to allow us to make a decision.
Complaints fall into two categories - Service Complaints and Conduct Complaints. Service complaints are investigated by us, conduct complaints are investigated by the relevant professional body (e.g. Law Society of Scotland for solicitors).
Two of the commonest reasons for not accepting complaints were as follows:
1) The complaint had been made outside the time limit
The SLCC operates strict time limits for accepting complaints, which require complaints to be made within one year of the service ending or the conduct occurring. However, the SLCC will disregard any time it considers that the complainer was excusably unaware of their concerns. If you make a complaint after the one year deadline has passed, it is unlikely that we will be able to consider your complaint unless there are exceptional circumstances.
2) Complaints that are frivolous, vexatious or totally without merit
These terms are contained in the 2007 Act. The SLCC does not underestimate how important complaints are to those who make them. We know that to receive a decision that a complaint is not going to be investigated for one of these reasons can be upsetting - both because the complaint is rejected and because of the terms themselves.
Frivolous could be applied to a complaint that has little merit or is of a trivial nature, or where to investigate it would be out of all proportion to the seriousness of the issues complained about.
A vexatious complaint could be one made with the intention of causing annoyance or trouble for the person or firm complained about.
Totally without merit could be applied to a complaint that could not amount to a breach of service or conduct standards, is insupportable in law or has no substance whatsoever to it.