Scottish in-housers win lower SLCC fee

Scottish in-house lawyers have welcomed the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s (SLCC) willingness to offer in-housers a reduced annual levy, despite the escalating size of the commission’s overall budget.

As revealed by The Lawyer (3 December 2007), in-housers slammed the SLCC’s plans to charge all legal practitioners a flat rate, arguing that very few complaints were made against in-housers.

The SLCC, which will make a final decision next month, is considering a proposal from the Law Society of Scotland that in-house lawyers pay a third of the full levy, while solicitors in the first three years of private practice pay half.

SLCC interim chief executive Richard Smith said: “The commission is minded to go with these proposals because it just wants to get the funding, and if that’s the way the profession wants to structure it we’d be happy with that.”

Colin Anderson, vice-chairman of the Law Society of Scotland’s In-house Lawyers Group, welcomed the news. “We’d prefer no payment, but we won’t get that, so this is a reasonable result,” he said. The annual cost of funding the SLCC, which will be around £3.5m, will be almost double that of original estimates, meaning those paying the full amount face an annual fee of between £400 and £500.

Smith commented: “The biggest issue for us is that everybody’s guessing as to the volume of complaints we’ll get and we have to take a defensive position in terms of the budget.”