Complaining about an Advocate

If an Advocate has been representing you in your case and you want to complain about them, there are certain procedures you'll have to follow. This page explains more.

What can I complain about?

Advocates aim to provide a very high standard of service and pride themselves in giving top quality legal advice and representation. They stick to a professional guide to conduct that sets out their duties and obligations and the standards expected of them. Have a look at our page called solicitor-advocates and Advocates for more information, or you can look at a copy of the guide on the Faculty of Advocates website.

If you're not happy about the service you've received from an Advocate, or the way they've behaved, you can complain about it.

If you're not happy about the fee that's been charged by an Advocate for work done on your behalf, you should speak to your solicitor about this. Advocate's fees are usually agreed between your solicitor and the Advocate's clerk in advance, in which case there's nothing you can do about it. However, if the fee hasn't already been agreed, your solicitor can challenge it. If they can't agree, the Auditor of the Court of Session can make a final decision.

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 the Advocate who's representing you. An Advocate has the same duties to you however they are funded and, if you've not happy about something, you can complain about it.

Who do I complain to?

If you want to make a complaint, you should first write to the Advocate, or to their firm or practice. It's best to make your complaint in writing, so you have a record. If you're not sure what to write, you can ask an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau to help you with your letter.

The Advocate or their firm may well be able to resolve the issue, so you won't need to take your complaint any further. However, if you're not satisfied by their response, you should contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (see below).

When should I complain?

If you wish to complain, you should do so as soon a possible. It's important to bear in mind that if you wish to take your complaint further, to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC), you must lodge your complaint within 3 years of:

  • the date on which your case finished, or

  • the date on which you first became aware of the problem.

If the conduct or service you want to complain about happened before 1 April 2017 then the SLCC deadline would have been one year.

What is the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission?

The SLCC was launched on 1 October 2008 to provide a straightforward way to complain about service provided by lawyers in Scotland.

Before the Commission was launched, complaints about Advocates were handled by the Faculty of Advocates. If you weren't happy with the response received, you could then take your complaint to the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman. However, now all legal complaints are dealt with by the SLCC.

The SLCC deals with complaints about Advocates in two ways:

  • If your complaint is about the service you received from an Advocate, the SLCC will look into the complaint.

  • If your complaint is about the conduct or behaviour of an Advocate, the SLCC will pass the complaint to the Faculty of Advocates.

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

What happens if the SLCC passes my complaint to the Faculty of Advocates?

The Faculty of Advocates has a formal complaints procedure in place and your complaint will go through this process. The Faculty of Advocates website contains a very good explanation of the procedure, including a useful flowchart so you can see what'll happen to your complaint.

What happens if I'm not happy with the result?

If you're not happy with the way your complaint has been handled by the Faculty of Advocates, you can contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

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Last updated: 29 December 2014

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