Complaints about lawyers increase 22 per cent in three years

Written by Jenni Davidson on 20 November 2018 in News

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission has reported a rise in complaints about lawyers for the third year in a row

Neil Stevenson, Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - Image credit: Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Complaints about lawyers rose by 6.2 per cent in the last year, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s (SLCC) annual report has revealed.

This is the third year in a row that complaints about the legal profession have gone up, making the total rise 22 per cent since 2015.

There was an 18 per cent annual increase in the number of complaints dealt with by the SLCC, including complaints that were already in progress at the start of the year or referred back to the SLCC from a previous year.

Conveyancing is the top area of law that is complained about, accounting for more than 24 per cent of complaints, followed by litigation, family law and wills and trusts.

The top complaint, in more than a quarter of cases, is failure to communicate effectively.

Failure to advise adequately, failure to act in the best interests of the client and failure to provide information were the next highest complaints.

The Scottish Government is currently considering the recommendations of a review of the regulation of the legal sector, led by Esther Roberton, with changes to the legal complaints system expected.

SLCC chief executive Neil Stevenson said: “While we know much of the focus at the moment is on the recent outcome of the Roberton review of the regulation of legal services, it’s important to reflect on the year we have had. 

“We hope that the review will lead to real improvement in the system. 

“However, we can’t stand still, and in the last year our focus has been on working within the system we have. 

“We have put in place a further programme of internal process improvement work and worked with the Law Society of Scotland and others to explore small changes to the current legislation.”

“As ever, it’s important to recognise that most solicitors do a good job. 

“We know that the overall number of legal transactions and the number of lawyers are both rising. 

“We also know the public are now more confident to raise issues when they do have concerns. 

“Increasing complaints does mean more work for us, but we know this is a trend being seen in other sectors and professions.”

Chair Jim Martin added, “At the SLCC we are working hard within the constraints put upon us by legislation to find speedier, efficient processes to reduce investigation times.”

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