Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SLCC Research

Further to my post in May yesterday the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission published research into the Law Society of Scotland's client negligence and compensation schemes, known as Master Policy and Guarantee Fund. The researchers say the study must be seen as preliminary given the short timescale and resources available. It had not been possible to find a representative sample of claimants with experience of the Master Policy as interviews were restricted to 11 claimants who approached the researchers. However, representatives of consumer bodies in addition to solicitors and representatives of the profession were interviewed.

Solicitors see the Master Policy as simply a professional negligence insurance designed to protect individual members of the profession. Claimants on the other hand think its primary purpose should be to protect the public against incompetent members of the legal profession and were very much of the opinion that it was difficult to establish liability of a solicitor for professional negligence. The report found the Law Society of Scotland of Scotland raises the expectations of potential claimants by emphasising the Master Policy’s public protection role but in practice the Master Policy is more inclined towards protection of the legal profession.

Data which would have allowed researchers to look at the record of the Master Policy in terms of claims and compensation paid was requested from the Law Society of Scotland but was only made available the day before the Report was due to be submitted. Furthermore the Law Society of Scotland and the broker, Marsh, put conditions on the use of the data in this study which were unacceptable to the researchers and to the Chief Executive of SLCC. The limited data researchers saw on the Guarantee Fund suggests that there is a considerable difference between the value of claims and the sums paid out by the Fund.

The report recommends that the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission undertake a longer term research project which will allow researchers to examine the experiences of a representative sample of claimants and solicitors as well as analyse data on claims provided by the Master Policy’s broker under reasonable conditions of use.

Full Report Source Scottish Legal Complaints Commission 13 July 2009


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