(530)  COMPLAINTS AGAINST LAWYERS

 

The Scottish Executive unveiled its proposals for a Scottish Legal Complaints Commission on 22 December 2005 (see previously Nos 459 and 523).  This will deal with all consumer or service complaints against lawyers which cannot be resolved at source.  However, the professional bodies will retain responsibility for professional discipline and will handle complaints about the conduct of practitioners.  The Commission will take over the jurisdiction of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman in reviewing the way the professional bodies handle complaints.  The chair and most members of the Commission will be non-lawyers.  Running costs will be met from a levy on practising lawyers, with a further levy from those who are the subject of complaints (unless the complaints are vexatious or frivolous).  Roy Martin, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, was critical of the duplication of process involved in the complex scheme, while Caroline Flanagan, President of the Law Society of Scotland, was concerned about the additional costs and the impact this might have on access to legal services, particularly in rural areas.  The proposals will come forward in a Legal Profession and Legal Assistance Bill to be laid before the Scottish Parliament in February 2006.

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