Reforming legal services regulation

01 Mar

THE Faculty has responded to the Scottish Government's consultation on amendments to legal complaints. The consultation seeks to inform legislation which will be based on Esther Roberton’s 2018 report on reforming and modernising the framework for the regulation of legal services and complaints handling in Scotland.

Responding to each issue raised by the call for evidence, the Faculty has sought to engage constructively. The Faculty strongly agrees with changes which seek to improve transparency on complaints. In its response, the faculty said: "The Faculty considers that carefully controlled publication subject to the safeguards outlined does have a legitimate role to play in the public interest, and this accords with the Faculty’s own rules about publication of its disciplinary decisions."

The Faculty also agrees with changes at the stage of concluding a complaint that would ensure a case is closed in reasonable time. The Faculty's response explains: "we certainly support in principle removal of any financial incentive to prolong resolution of complaints."

On the other hand, the Faculty has expressed strong disagreement with proposals to introduce hybrid issue complaints and triaging. The former proposal would be "onerous on the practitioner, confusing for the public, and may lead to the possibility of conflicting decisions by the SLCC and the professional body". The Faculty also strongly disagrees with proposals to change existing practices for the identification of valid complaints and for completing and reporting on investigations. 

The Faculty also mostly disagrees with proposed changes to the rules on fee rebates, which are designed to allow a complainer to recover both compensation and a refund of fees. On this issue, the Faculty responds: "We are uncertain about the need to drive public confidence in the regulatory system by providing this benefit. However, we note the observation that these cases can attract negative public comments, and it may be that the proposal can be justified because of the types of circumstance in which the problem tends to arise."

You can read more of the Faculty’s response here.