House of Commons Library

Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers

Published Wednesday, December 5, 2018

This Commons Library briefing paper deals with the current procedure and qualifying criteria for making complaints against solicitors and other lawyers across the United Kingdom.

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This briefing paper deals with the current procedure and qualifying criteria for making complaints against solicitors and other lawyers across the United Kingdom.

In each jurisdiction, anyone who is dissatisfied with the service provided by their lawyer should first complain directly to them.

England and Wales

The Legal Ombudsman is responsible for dealing with complaints about poor service against lawyers in England and Wales.

Issues of professional misconduct are dealt with by the relevant “approved regulator” – for example, the Bar Standards Board (for barristers) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (for solicitors).

Scotland

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) deals with complaints about inadequate professional service against legal practitioners in Scotland.

The SLCC passes complaints about the conduct of legal practitioners to the appropriate professional organisation to investigate.

The SLCC can look at the way a conduct complaint was handled by a professional organisation.

In October 2018, the report of a Review of the Regulation of Legal Services, which was set up by the Scottish Government, recommended the creation of a single, independent regulator for all providers of legal services in Scotland who should be responsible for complaints handling.

The Scottish Government has said that it will publish a formal response to the report in due course.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Law Society of Northern Ireland deals with complaints against solicitors, and the Professional Conduct Committee of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland considers complaints against barristers. The Legal Complaints and Regulation Act (NI) 2016 will, when fully implemented, provide for a new complaints process which will be led by lay people, and not by legal professionals.

 

Commons Briefing papers SN03762

Author: Catherine Fairbairn

Topic: Legal profession

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