News In Focus
Complaints Commission announces budget cuts
The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has announced budget proposals for 2009-10 which it claims should benefit both consumers and legal practitioners.
Under the proposals, solicitors who paid £307 for the first nine months of the Commission’s life, from 1 October 2008, will be asked for £275 for the year from 1 July 2009.
The original budget for the Commission’s first year of operation was £3,493,823. Operating costs for the next 12 months are significantly reduced, with a proposed budget of £2,985,102.
For the year 2009-10 the following charges are proposed:
- Solicitors with 3+ years’ experience: £275
- Advocates: £223
- Solicitors within first 3 years of practice : £138
- In-house solicitors: £91
The £200 charge for mediation will be removed. However levies against legal practitioners when a complaint is upheld will double. As a result the proposed complaints levies for 2009-10 are:
Mediation levy: £0
No complaint upheld: £0
Complaint accepted – first settlement: £500
Complaint accepted – second and further settlements: £700
Formal determination – first: £800
Formal determination – second: £1,200
Formal determination – third and further determinations: £2,000.
Commenting on the proposed budget, SLCC Chair Jane Irvine said: “As an independent, impartial and accessible organisation, the budget has been developed after listening to the views of both consumer organisations and legal practitioners.” She recognised that the economic downturn was having an effect, and pointed out that practitioners already working to high standards would benefit from the reduction in the annual levy.
“However, consumer organisations want to see higher standards of service and early resolution of complaints. With this in mind, the SLCC will double charges where a complaint is upheld. The minimum charge will rise from £250 to £500. The financial implications of an increased complaints levy should encourage practitioners to resolve complaints at an early stage.”