Friday, July 27, 2007

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to be based in Edinburgh

The new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, formed as a result of the passing of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 will be located in Edinburgh, rather than some far flung corner of the empire.How far from the present home of complaints regulation at Drumsheugh Gardens is anyone's guess, as no property has yet been selected so reports the Edinburgh Evening News.

chuff chuff at the remarks Edinburgh is accepted as "Scotland's legal centre" .. has anyone from the Glasgow Bar Association got anything to say about that one ?!

No doubt the new organisation will face sniping from both the The Law Society of Scotland and campaigners alike - but hopefully the Scottish Executive will keep the legal profession's filthy mitts off the new SLCC, or we will be in for more of a public bashing later on for yet more complaints fiddles. Did I just say fiddle ?

Capital base for new law complaints body


EDINBURGH today won the first relocation battle to be decided under the new SNP administration at Holyrood.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, with up to 60 jobs, will be based in the Capital.

It had been expected that the new body, due to start work in 2008, would be located elsewhere, in line with the relocation policy of the previous Scottish Executive to disperse public service jobs away from Edinburgh.

But Mr MacAskill said the Capital's recognised role as "Scotland's legal centre" had helped tip the balance in the city's favour.

The announcement has raised hopes that the new government will rethink the policy, which has seen thousands of civil service and quango jobs transferred out of Edinburgh - often just along the M8 to Glasgow.

The decision also means there will be no further upheaval in a shake-up of the legal complaints system, which is said by senior legal sources to be "chaotic".

The new commission will take over the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman and the Law Society. But it will have the power to award up to £20,000 compensation for inadequate service - four times the current limit.

The commission will be headed by a board chaired by a non-lawyer, with a majority of members from outside the legal profession.

The Executive says it will ensure that complaints against the legal profession are resolved quickly.

Four Ombudsman employees and 34 full-time Law Society staff are legally entitled to transfer to the SLCC if they want. But the commission will also recruit new staff to create a workforce of up to 60.

Fife, West Lothian, North Lanarkshire, Glasgow and East Ayrshire had all been shortlisted to become the headquarters for the commission. But ministers came down in favour of the Capital.

No premises have been chosen, but the government hopes that in the longer term the commission can share accommodation with other small ombudsman-type services.

Making the announcement today, Mr MacAskill said: "The decision of where to site the commission was finely balanced.

"However, Scotland's capital is widely recognised as Scotland's legal centre. This decision places independent complaints handling at the heart of the civil and criminal justice system and close to the hub of the legal profession."

The previous Executive's relocation policy was heavily criticised in a report by the Scottish Parliament's audit committee earlier this year, which described it as a "blunt instrument" which had failed to bring about a proper dispersal of jobs in Scotland.

It pointed out that more than half the 2432 jobs to leave Edinburgh had simply been transferred to Glasgow.

An Executive spokesman said: "We are considering the future direction of the policy on public sector job location."

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