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SLCC chair and board announced

10 January 2008

The current Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has been appointed as the chair of the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

Jane Irvine takes on the role as head of the new independent legal complaints handling body, whose members also include Alan Paterson, David Smith, Margaret Scanlan and David Chaplin as lawyer members and Douglas Watson, Linda Pollock, George Irving and Ian Gordon as non-lawyer members.

Jane Irvine has been the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman since April 2006. She is a specialist in consumer complaints, having held a number of positions as a mediator, arbitrator and adjudicator of consumer complaints. She has sat on a range of disciplinary tribunals and currently sits on the Discipline Board of the Institute of Actuaries. Her term as chair of the SLCC will run for five years.

Lawyer members

Alan Paterson is professor of law and director of the Centre for Professional Legal Studies at Strathclyde University. He has researched in, and published on, the regulation of lawyers and the provision of public legal services for more than 20 years. He is a co-opted member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland.

David Smith is a senior commercial property lawyer and has been a partner in Shepherd & Wedderburn for 33 years. He has spent more than 20 years as part of the firm's management board and was chairman from 1999-2005.

Margaret Scanlan is an accredited specialist in family law at Russells Gibson McCaffrey. She has also tutored in family law at Glasgow Caledonian University. Mrs Scanlan was a member and latterly deputy chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board from 1997-2007, and a founder member of both Strathkelvin Women's Aid and the Family Law Association.

David Chaplin has been a senior partner in Anderson Fyfe for the last 15 years and is a specialist in insolvency law.

Non-lawyer members

Douglas Watson has been a police officer for 30 years and is currently an adult protection development officer for Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders Executive Group. He is currently a committee member for the Law Society of Scotland and a sessional inspector for the Social Work Inspection Agency.

Linda Pollock has had a broad based career in the NHS with clinical, teaching, research and management experience, being in leadership roles since 1989. Dr Pollock was a part time nurse member of the Mental Welfare Commission (1997-2005) and is currently a registrant member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council Appointments Board.

George L Irving CBE was Director of Social Work, North Ayrshire Council. From 2001-2006 he was chair of NHS Ayrshire and Arran. He led the National Support Team, Management of Offenders 2005-2007 and is currently a Visiting Professor to Glasgow Caledonian University School of Health and Social Care.

Ian Gordon OBE, QPM is a retired Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside Police. He is currently an associate professor in policing for Charles Sturt University (Australia). He was Chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland Professional Standards Business Area and Vice-Chair of the General Policing Business Area.

Safeguard rights

The SLCC will receive and deal with complaints against solicitors and advocates which cannot be resolved at source. Its main functions are to resolve complaints alleging inadequate professional service or negligence by legal practitioners, to refer complaints which allege professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct to the relevant professional body and to promote good practice in complaints handling.

The Commission will be located in Edinburgh and is expected to be operational by October 2008.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "Jane Irvine and her fellow commissioners will have a strong remit to deal with complaints and I am confident that their independent scrutiny will safeguard the rights of both the profession and the users of legal services throughout Scotland.

"Complaints handling is not just about dealing with things that go wrong, but ensuring that things go right. The commissioners will help to build a culture of learning from complaints through their oversight and promotion of standards. This focus on the quality of service will undoubtedly benefit both consumers and the profession alike."

The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed the news, saying: “We look forward to working closely with the commissioners to ensure a smooth transition of service complaints handling from the Society to the Commission.”