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 you can complain about to the SLCC

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 you can complain about

You can complain to the SLCC if:

  • you're unhappy about the service you've received from a legal practitioner

  • you're unhappy about the way a legal practitioner has behaved 

Deadline for complaining

There is a deadline of three years in which to make the complaint from:

  • the date the service provided to you ended, or

  • the date the conduct happened

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

Check the SLCC website for more information on complaint deadlines.

How to make a complaint

You can use the SLCC online complaint form. There are instructions on its website to help you fill the form in. You can also call or email the SLCC for help.

You should complain directly to the firm or practitioner first.
Once you complain the SLCC will check if you have already made a complaint to the firm or practitioner. If you haven’t, they will put your complaint on hold. This is to give the practitioner a chance to deal with it.

You can find out more about complaining about a solicitor and complaining about an Advocate.

Who deals with the complaint

The SLCC will assess your complaint to see if it has merit or if it's inappropriate.

When you complain to the SLCC they may refer your complaint on. The nature of your complaint will dictate which service will look at it for you. There are two kinds of complaints:

  • complaints about a service are dealt with by SLCC

  • complaints about conduct or behaviour are passed on by the SLCC to the appropriate body, for example, the Law Society of Scotland

If it is not taking your complaint on, the SLCC will write to you and tell you why.

You can appeal SLCC decisions in the Court of Session if you think it made a mistake or acted unfairly.

What SLCC do once it decides to look at your complaint

The SLCC will assess what happened when you complained directly to the firm or practitioner. It will ask them to sort the situation out for you within a specified time period if:

  • you didn't submit an initial complaint to the firm/practitioner

  • it believes the situation wasn’t resolved properly

It can also offer you and the practitioner mediation, to help you reach a suitable solution. You do not have to agree to any offers in mediation.

If no resolution has been reached the SLCC will look into your complaint itself. You and the practitioner will both be asked to explain your side of the story. This is so the SLCC can make a fair and reasonable decision.

What happens when the SLCC agrees with a 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 SLCC'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.

Complaining to the SLCC about the way the Law Society or Faculty of Advocates handled a 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

If you're not happy with the way your complaint was handled, you can complain to the SLCC. There are time limits for these complaints.

Check the SLCC website for more information on complaint deadlines.

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

If you're 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 Court of Session. 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. However, it is important not to rely on this.

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

Last updated: 7 June 2021

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