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by Jenni Davidson
18 May 2018
Current legal complaints system ‘not fit for purpose’, says Scottish Legal Complaints Commission chair

Current legal complaints system ‘not fit for purpose’, says Scottish Legal Complaints Commission chair

Statue of Lady Justice on the Old Bailey - Image credit: Clara Molden/PA

The current legal complaints system is “simply not fit for purpose”, the chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has said.

Speaking at an event at Queen Margaret University’s Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre, with complaints experts, consumer bodies and sector representatives, Jim Martin said the current process was a poor example of “what complainers want from a complaints system”.

Martin, who has been SLCC chair for five months, said it was overly complex, hinders proportionate and efficient operation, has a lack of focus on the internationally recognised consumer principles and does not meet the government’s standards for ‘better regulation’.

The SLCC chair added that he agreed with suggestions that other complaint-handling organisations, such as the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales (LeO) and other Scottish complaints bodies offer a better legislative model and greater efficiency.

“We are pleased at the growing consensus that these are the sort of models to look to as we move forward,” he said.

He added: “Comprehensive change is what is required.

“While we welcome the current collaborative work with the Law Society to identify what can be changed by regulation, we need to move away from tinkering with a system which is simply not fit for purpose.

“Lessons need to be learned from the mistakes made in the past.

“To achieve a complaints process which is fit for the 21st century we must be prepared to embrace far more radical change.”

A review of the regulation of the legal services sector in Scotland, including complaints handling, led by NHS 24 chair Esther Roberton, is currently being carried out.

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