Your report (29 October) regarding the role of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) as a “watchdog that can bite” confirms what the laity has always known: the SLCC is ultimately a toothless poodle when confronted with complaints about the behaviour of Scotland’s lawyers. Matthew Vickers, chief executive of the SLCC, confirmed that fact when he opined: “As far as the profession is concerned, the dominant sense is that they are irritated by the SLCC – but definitely not frightened of it.”
Extensive lobbying by the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates ensured that when the SLCC was functional, it would float like a stone and sting like a flea.
It cannot investigate complaints of professional misconduct because the society and the faculty ensured that complaints of misconduct would remain in-house.
Kneecapped before it could run, the SLCC was left with complaints of inadequate professional service. Thus the essence of the complaints are hived off for the “attention” of the faculty and the society and the SLCC is left with the husk of the complaints.
The SLCC’s 2011-12 annual report “will raise concerns that some practitioners are not paying up when the SLCC finds against them” but they won’t get away with it because Mr Vickers informed us that “we are talking to the professional bodies to see what we can do about it”. How’s that as an example of the power of enforcement?
By his own admissions, throughout your report, Mr Vickers confirmed that the SLCC is not an effective complaints commission but that, thanks to the lobbying of the legal establishment, was how it was meant to be.
What is needed is an SLCC with the power to investigate complaints of professional misconduct, because such conduct almost always reflects inadequate professional service and professional negligence.
What is needed is an SLCC with the power to enforce its own findings – supported by the power to name and shame those lawyers who exposed their clients to the benefits of professional misconduct.
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