Complaining about a solicitor

There are certain procedures you should follow if you want to complain about your solicitor. This page explains more.

What can I complain about?

If you're not happy about the service you've received or the way your solicitor has behaved when dealing with your case, you can complain about them.

If you're not happy about the fee your solicitor has charged, you can complain about this, although complaining doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to pay less (see 'can I complain about my solicitor's bill' below).

You can also complain if you think your solicitor has acted negligently or fraudulently. If you think this is the case, it is a very serious matter. There are specific tests that are applied to each case to see whether or not a solicitor has acted negligently.

Can I complain if I'm getting legal aid?

Yes. Just because you're getting help with your legal costs through the Scottish Legal Aid system, it doesn't mean that you don't have the right to complain if you're not happy with your solicitor. Your solicitor has the same duties to you however they are funded and, if you're not happy about something, you can complain about it. 

Who do I complain to?

If you're not happy about something your solicitor is (or isn't) doing then the first step you should take is to speak to them directly to see if you can sort out the problem on a one-to-one basis.

If you've spoken to your solicitor about your complaint and you're not happy with their response, contact the client relations partner in the firm. When you first instructed your solicitor, you should have received a 'terms of engagement' letter setting out what the firm will do for you, who's dealing with your case and various other information. That letter will also say who the client relations partner is or who you should contact if you've got a complaint. If you can't find that letter, just phone the reception desk of the firm and ask who the relevant partner is or contact the Registrar's Department of the Law Society of Scotland on 0131 226 7411.

Once you know who the client relations partner is you can either:

  • speak to them on the phone

  • arrange a meeting to discuss your complaint, or

  • write a letter explaining what your complaint is.

If you decide to write a letter, make sure you put the correct person's name on the envelope and write 'client relations partner' underneath it to make sure it gets to them quickly.

If you don't get a satisfactory response from the client relations partner, you can take your complaint further (see below).

My solicitor is part of a law centre

If you've spoken to your solicitor directly but you're still not happy, you can contact one of the partners (or the relevant person) in the firm to take your complaint further. Law centres usually run on a not-for-profit basis but they are still firms of solicitors and are bound by the same rules as private firms. So you should ask to be put in touch with the person who deals with complaints and explain your problem to them.

What if I'm not happy with my solicitor's response?

If you aren't happy with the way your solicitor's firm or law centre handles your complaint, you can make a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

What is the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission?

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission is an independent body that deals with complaints about solicitors.

You can find out more about the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission here.

Can I complain about my solicitor's bill?

To find out more about your solicitor's bill, have a look at our page on solicitors' fees and charges.

If you think your solicitor's bill is unreasonably high (for example, if it's significantly higher than the original estimate you were given) don't pay it straight away. Instead, ask your solicitor for a breakdown of all the different costs included. Some of the costs (for example, stamp duty if you're buying a house) will be fixed amounts, and your solicitor cannot charge you more for these.

If you still think the bill is too high, you can ask the Auditor of Court to look at it and either approve or reduce it. This process is called taxation. The Auditor of Court will charge for carrying out a taxation: if they decide your bill is too high, the solicitor will have to pay the charge, but if the Auditor decides the bill is reasonable, you will have to pay both the bill and the charge. Get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you are thinking about challenging your solicitor's bill.

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Last updated: 29 December 2014

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