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Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) aims to provide a straightforward way to complain about legal practitioners in Scotland. The SLCC is an independent body that investigates and resolves complaints about poor service and refers complaints to the relevant professional body.

Who can I complain about to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission?

You can complain about any legal practitioner. This includes:

  • solicitors
  • advocates
  • solicitor-advocates
  • other legal practitioners including licensed conveyancers, licensed executry practitioners and members of Association of Commercial Attorneys.

What kind of complaints can I make to the SLCC?

You can complain to the SLCC if:

  • you're not happy about the service you've received from a legal practitioner
  • you're unhappy about the way a legal practitioner has behaved 

However, you should only complain to the SLCC after you've complained directly to the legal practitioner, or to their firm or practice. You can find out more about complaining about a solicitor and complaining about an Advocate here.

When should I make my complaint?

You must make your complaint to the SLCC within one year of:

  • the date the service provided to you ended, or
  • the date the conduct happened.

How do I make a complaint?

In order to make a complaint, you need to download the complaint form from the SLCC website, fill it in then post it back to the SLCC. There are instructions on the website to help you fill the form in, and you can also call or email the SLCC for help.

How does the SLCC deal with complaints?

First of all, the SLCC will decide whether or not your complaint has any merit. If it thinks it is too frivolous, or that you are only making the complaint to annoy your solicitor, it won't take the complaint any further and will write to you to let you know. If you think the SLCC has made a mistake or acted unfairly, you can appeal its decision in the sheriff court (see 'what if I'm not happy with the SLCC's decision' below).

Otherwise, the SLCC will decide how best to deal with your complaint.

  • If your complaint is about the service you received from a legal practitioner and the work started before 1 October 2008, the Law Society of Scotland with deal with it.
  • If your complaint is about the service you received from a legal practitioner and the work started after 1 October 2008 the SLCC will deal with it.
  • If the complaint concerns the conduct or behaviour of your solicitor, the SLCC will pass the complaint to the Law Society of Scotland.
  • If the complaint concerns the conduct or behaviour of an Advocate, the SLCC will pass the complaint to the Faculty of Advocates.

What happens if my complaint is about the service received?

The Commission will first look at what happened when you complained directly to the legal practitioner or practice. If you didn't do this, or if the Commission believes the practitioner or practice didn't try to resolve the situation properly, it can ask the practitioner or practice to sort the situation out for you within a specified time period.

It can also offer you and the practitioner mediation, to help you reach a suitable solution. However, you don't have to accept the offer of mediation if you don't want to.

If this doesn't work, or if the SLCC sees that the practice or practitioner did attempt to resolve the situation when you first complained, it will look into your complaint itself. You and the practitioner will both be asked to explain your side of the story, so the SLCC can make a fair and reasonable decision.

What happens if the SLCC upholds my complaint?

If the SLCC decides that your complaint is justified it can:

  • award you compensation of up to £20,000 for any loss, inconvenience of stress you've suffered as a result of the poor service you received from the legal practitioner
  • make the legal practitioner or practice reduce their fees, re-do work or put right any mistakes, at their own expense
  • report the practitioner to the relevant professional body.

The Commission's decision will depend on the situation and how serious your complaint is. When it has made a decision, it will write to you to let you know.

What if I complained to the SLCC about the way the Law Society or Faculty of Advocates handled my complaint?

Your complaint will have been handled by the Law Society of Scotland or Faculty of Advocates if:

  • your complaint concerned a legal practitioner's conduct, or
  • your complaint was made before 1 October 2008.

In this case, if you're not happy with the way your complaint was handled, you can complain to the SLCC. You must make your complaint within six months of a date to be specified by an order from the Scottish Government.

If the SLCC decides to investigate your case, it can order the Law Society or Faculty of Advocates to:

  • investigate your complaint in more detail
  • reconsider its decision about your complaint
  • pay you compensation of up to £5,000 to make up for any loss, inconvenience or distress caused by the way it handled your complaint
  • reimburse you for the cost of making your complaint.

What if I'm not happy with the SLCC's decision?

If you think the SLCC has acted unfairly or hasn't considered all the facts of your case, you can appeal its decision in the sheriff court. You must do this within 28 days of the decision being made. In special circumstances the court may still consider your appeal after 28 days have expired, but you shouldn't rely on this.

Talk to an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau if you're thinking about appealing a decision.

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