Complaints against solicitors
8 January 2013
Two Inner House appeals from decisions of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (“SLCC”) have been reported, in which advocates from Axiom acted for the SLCC.
The first, Kerr Stirling LLP v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission  CSIH 98, concerned the SLCC’s decision that a complaint was timebarred under Section 4 of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 ("the 2007 Act"). The court found that the SLCC had erred in law in their application of the 1 year timebar on the facts. The decision also contains guidance on the situations in which solicitors complained of should be given further opportunities to make representations to the SLCC.
The second, Richard Saville Smith v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission  CSIH 99, was an appeal against a decision of the SLCC to reject a complaint as totally without merit. While accepting that the totally without merit test gave a low threshold for complainers to cross before a complaint was fully investigated, the Inner House found that the SLCC had been correct to reject this particular complaint. The complaint was about advice from a solicitor in connection with an internal employment appeal, and the court found the SLCC’s decision to be neither without merit or unsupported by the facts found. Also of interest was the court’s approval of the SLCC’s system of summarising lengthy complaints and dealing with them on the basis of a summary accepted by the complainer; whereas in Kerr Stirling LLP the court appeared to attach more significance to the original complaint.
Anna Poole QC acted in the Richard Saville Smith appeal, and Morag Ross acted in the Kerr Stirling LLP appeal.
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