News / General

Annual Report of the Scottish Legal Ombudsman

By SLAS Spokesperson

The Report of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman for the year 2001-2002 has now been issued and will be studied by the Council of SLAS. Mrs. Costelloe Baker welcomes the fact that the Law Society of Scotland has improved its communications, has made an effort to write to complainers in plain English and is encouraging solicitors to do likewise. Her continuing concern about the way in which the Society handles complaints is the complexity of the complaints process and the time which it takes.

In the period under consideration she received 153 complaints and prepared 74 Opinions. In about two thirds of these she was not satisfied with the way in which the Society had investigated the complaints. She has identified cases, which she would label as complaints, which the Society has not accepted as such. This may be an area for clarification. She recommends that the Society should take no more than nine months to complete an investigation, no longer than six months for a re-examination and should identify and record poor performance so that solicitors who fall below acceptable standards can receive targeted training. She recommends that the Law Society and the universities should include a module in Communication skills in the Diploma Course. She is conscious of the fact that she sees only the cases where there is dissatisfaction and does record receiving a letter from a satisfied complainer who praised the Society for what it had done.

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