New Year should bring welcome reform to legal services regulation - Vicky Crichton

The turn of the year is always a time for reflection and planning. The holiday period gives us the chance (hopefully!) to pause, to think about what has been, what we’ve learned and what we want to carry forward into the new year. It’s also a chance to think about what we want the coming year to be and what we can change, retain or improve.

There’s no doubt that 2022 was an unusual year. In so many walks of life, we’ve emerged from the strange and uncertain covid times, looking for a return to ‘normal’ only to find that it has changed forever. That can be unsettling, but also brings opportunities to shape the future we want to see.

For me 2022 was very much about people. We opened the year piloting a new working model for our staff, working with them to find the best fit solution for our organisation. One that helps us to be effective and efficient in delivering our statutory duties, while giving staff the flexibility that helps them to thrive. We wanted to balance the need for a strong team culture and collaborative working with individual choice and autonomy. It’s a challenge that will be familiar to many organisations. I’m immensely proud that we agreed and embedded that in 2022 and will start 2023 with a new focus on our future property needs.

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Our staff, in turn, spent 2022 focused on our customers. A dedicated service experience team has drawn insight, ideas and enthusiasm from across the organisation to listen to our customers and identify, test and refine improvements big and small that will improve our customer service. From call back options to telephone standards to automated scheduling, the commitment of the team to finding practical solutions to make our process more accessible has been truly inspiring. This is an approach we will be carrying with us into 2023.

Vicky Crichton is Director of Public Policy at the Scottish Legal Complaints CommissionVicky Crichton is Director of Public Policy at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission
Vicky Crichton is Director of Public Policy at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Looking to the future, there is further change on the way, in the form of welcome reform of legal services regulation. Since 2016 we’ve been calling for reform to the framework of legal services regulation and complaints. The legislation which governs it is too complex and restrictive, and we need a more flexible and proportionate approach to create a system which delivers the swift and efficient service that both consumers and lawyers deserve.

We closed 2022 with proposals to do just that. So we’re looking at 2023 as a year of significant opportunity. A chance to debate the changes needed to create a regulatory and complaints system that works for those who need to use it and those subject to it. We’re excited to make the case for an emphasis on people and outcomes over process. We strongly believe that a new regulatory framework should not only inspire public confidence through greater transparency and accountability, but also bring a greater focus on prevention, improvement and learning.

The opportunity ahead of us is to learn from the past to help shape the future. To take what has worked and to build on it, and to have the courage to discard what is no longer fit for today’s, or tomorrow’s world. As we celebrate the year past and anticipate the year to come, our resolution is to be bold and positive and to embrace the opportunities 2023 will bring.

Vicky Crichton is Director of Public Policy at the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission



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