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Managing your workload & avoiding complaints Scottish Legal Complaints Commission David Buchanan-Cook Head of Oversight.

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Presentation on theme: "Managing your workload & avoiding complaints Scottish Legal Complaints Commission David Buchanan-Cook Head of Oversight."— Presentation transcript:

1 Managing your workload & avoiding complaints Scottish Legal Complaints Commission David Buchanan-Cook Head of Oversight

2 overview Background – the SLCC  Scene setting  Our remit  How we deal with complaints  Awarding compensation and settlement  Complaint numbers Complaints & workload management  Complaint business areas: conduct v service  Examples of complaints  Tips for complaint avoidance or mitigation  Good complaint management

3 scene setting  Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007  Abolition of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman  Opened 1 st October 2008  Based in Edinburgh – Waterloo Place  “Hybrid” organisation – public and private attributes  Funded by levy on legal profession  Over-arching objectives:  Impartial  Accessible  Independent

4 our remit “Gateway for all legal complaints in Scotland” We investigate and determine: Service complaints SLSO legacy complaints Oversight Handling complaints – LSS, FoA and ACA Monitoring & trend reporting on conduct complaints Audit of RPO records relating to conduct complaints Monitoring & trend reporting on service complaints Monitoring effectiveness of the Guarantee Fund & indemnity insurance arrangements (Master Policy) Issuing guidance/best practice notes to the profession on complaint handling Insight and outreach – profession and consumers

5 SLCC commissioners Board of Commissioners  9 Commissioners (or Members):  5 lay  4 legal  Chair is a lay Member  Decision making requires a majority of lay Members  Determination Committees are always chaired by a legal Member

6 complaint process Enquiry Eligibility Mediation Investigation Determination Is it a legal complaint? Is the complaint eligible for investigation and, if so: Is it conduct or service or both? Who should investigate ? Can it be resolved by mediation? Can it be resolved at this stage? Conciliated during the process Proposed settlement report accepted Formal decision on whether or not to uphold

7 awarding compensation & settlement Relevant for two stages : Investigation stage – proposed settlement Determination stage – final award “Compensation” Compensation up to £20,000 Reduction/abatement/refund of fees – private or Legal Aid Restitution/rectification Training Any other action in complainer’s interest Against firm or practitioner or both We take a balanced view, taking into account: Quantifiable and non-quantifiable loss Inconvenience and/or distress to the complainer Any award of damages by the court Any other compensation awarded by tribunal or professional body (e.g. LSS or FoA)

8 complaint numbers – 2011-2012 Enquiries 2010-11 Enquiries in hand at the start of the year425 Enquiries received46272598 Enquires dealt with46272619 Enquiries in hand at the end of the year44 Complaints 2010-11 Complaints in hand at the start of the year566274 Complaints received12641090 Complaints ineligible for investigation486503 Eligible conduct complaints referred to professional body for investigation14485 Eligible service complaints dealt with and closed by SLCC289210 Complaints in hand at the end of the year (including 290 awaiting the eligibility decision)783566

9 service complaint business areas

10 conduct v service Complaints 2011/122010/112009/102008/09 Conduct23%29%45%84% Inadequate professional service77%71%55%16% Split between conduct and service complaints accepted as eligible for investigation

11 complaint categories

12 types of complaint communication I was told that I would get weekly updates from the firm regarding the sale of my property but these never took place I repeatedly asked for copies of documents which I had signed but received no response The solicitor failed to answer letters from my own solicitor (third party) I expected the solicitor to be acting for me but all the letters I received were from a paralegal delay There were unnecessary and lengthy delays in carrying out the conveyancing which almost led to my losing the property The firm delayed in finalising the Minute of Agreement

13 types of complaint technical issues The solicitor concluded missives for my house purchase when they had not secured the sale of my own house They failed to pursue the seller for provision of completion certificates in relation to a recent house extension The solicitor identified the wrong date when my court action would become time barred and I have lost my claim other recurring issues They provided me with no indication of likely costs and the final bill for their fees came as a complete shock The firm provided a written estimate but did not tell me when the fees exceeded that The firm failed to give me a terms of business letter

14 complaint “avoidance” workload management:  Be realistic when taking on new work  Diversification is fine – but within limits  Ensure working knowledge is current  Be wary of potentially problematic clients  Don’t be afraid to say no  Don’t be afraid to tell a client bad news – don’t put it off develop:  Effective time management  Efficient eye for detail/ quality control

15 complaint “avoidance” day-to-day case management:  Provide terms of engagement letter up front  Manage expectations throughout  Keep accurate file notes  Record advice given to, and instructions received from, clients  Use clear language – avoid legal jargon  Avoid unnecessary delays  Where delays are unavoidable, explain  Ensure effective supervision  Familiarise yourself with your firm’s complaint handling process  Don’t ignore third-party complaints

16 when things do go wrong…. when you get a complaint:  Don’t avoid the problem – discuss with CRM  Engage with client(s) to understand issue and impact  Explore resolution opportunities/options (at every stage)  Keep accurate records  Respond fully (or as fully as you can - 3 rd parties)  Use clear, comprehensible language and neutral tone  Give reasons and explanations  Acknowledge if something went wrong  Signpost the client to the SLCC  Seek the advice of LSS or SLCC at any point

17 unrealistic expectations? “What would you like to happen to resolve the problem?”  All the solicitors in the firm to be struck off  The firm to be barred from carrying out further business  I would like a new job  My complaint taken to the highest level and then, if that doesn’t work, taken higher  World peace  My solicitor to acknowledge and apologise ……

18 contact details  David Buchanan-Cook  Head of Oversight  Scottish Legal Complaints Commission  The Stamp Office  10-14 Waterloo Place  Edinburgh EH1 3EG  Tel: 0131 528 5111  

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