News In Focus
SLCC proposes 60% hike in general levy
Solicitors in private practice face paying an extra £122 a head to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission through the general levy in the Commission's next financial year.
The SLCC"s draft budget for 2012-13 (1 July 2012-30 June 2013) shows the headline levy jump by almost 60% from the current £206 to £338. Solicitors in their first three years of practice, and advocates, would pay £169; in-house lawyers and those working outwith Scotland, along with conveyancing and executry practitioners and commercial attorneys, £113.
Last year's figure was subsidised as the Commission reduced the level of reserves it had built up. Its budget for the coming year in fact shows a 0.5% cut in spending, from £2,830,319 to £2,813,381, against projected income of £2,818,567.
The Commission says that following the end of the transitional arrangementsunder which older service complaints continued to be referred to the Law Society of Scotland, it is "producing more, with slightly lower levels of expenditure".
However the Law Society of Scotland has called on the Commission to look for further savings.
The Society's chief executive, Lorna Jack commented: "The Commission has indicated that its expenditure will be down by half of one percent on last year. However, we are urging them to find further savings – without compromising the core and important role they perform – so that the annual levy solicitors pay to fund the organisation can be as low as possible in the coming year.
"Many of our members are facing difficult times economically. Whilst we accept that the Commission does not have the kind of reserves to offset the levy as it did last year, we believe that all efforts should be made to find further savings within the proposed budget, thereby lessening the impact of the proposed levy increase."
The Commission is also proposing a significant change to the complaints levy structure. No levy would be charged for complaints resolved at mediation and investigation stages, or for complaints not upheld at determination. But a single capped figure of £5,000 would be levied for complaints upheld in full or part at determination.
Its policy, the SLCC says, will be to apply discretion to charge up to that figure, taking into account the circumstances of the case and providing reasons for the levy charged.
The draft budget is now with the professional bodies for comment. Responses have been requested by 8 March 2012, to enable the Commission to consider and publish these by 31 March, prior to laying its finalised budget before the Scottish Parliament by 30 April.
Members of the Law Society of Scotland are asked to provide their comments to the Society by 29 February if they wish their views to be included in the Society's response (email: email@example.com).
Click here to access the documents.