This section describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about what you can expect from us.
We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action.
You can complain about things like:
Your complaint may involve more than one service or be about someone working on our behalf.
There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:
If other procedures or rights of appeal will help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.
Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. Please also read the section on Getting help to make your complaint.
You can complain in person, by phone, in writing, or email. It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the department concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff in the department you are complaining about. Then they can try to resolve any problems on the spot. When complaining, tell us:
Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint.
Our complaints procedure has two stages:
We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and immediate action to resolve the problem.
We will give you our decision at Stage One in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
If we can’t resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next. We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage Two. You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get our initial decision.
Stage Two deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage One and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.
When using Stage Two we will:
If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on progress.
After we have fully investigated, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.
The SPSO cannot normally look at:
You can contact the SPSO:
In Person: SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4NS
By Post: Freepost SPSO (this is all you need to write on the envelope)
Freephone: 0800 377 7330
If your complaint concerns the service provided by your solicitor, including in the Public Defence Solicitors’ Office, the Civil Legal Assistance Office or the Solicitor Contact Line, you may also make a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC). This is an independent body set up by the Scottish Government to investigate all complaints about the service of the legal profession.
You can contact the SLCC:
By post: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, The Stamp Office 10-14 Waterloo Place Edinburgh, EH1 3EG
Telephone: 0131 201 2130
We are not a complaint handling body for the legal professions and the SLCC is the appropriate organisation to raise concerns about the service or conduct of a solicitor.
However, we will consider activities undertaken by a solicitor to ensure work is necessary, reasonable and done in accordance with legal aid legislation and guidance.
Any such concerns can be sent to our Investigations Unit: SolicitorInvestigations@slab.org.uk
We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service.
We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.
You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting:
The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.
Telephone: 0131 524 1975
Fax: 0131 550 9819
We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help customers access and use our services. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want this information in another language or format, such as large font, or Braille, tell us in person or contact us to discuss this.
In person: The Scottish Legal Aid Board, Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5HE. Our standard opening times are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
Telephone: Our main switchboard telephone number is 0131 226 7061 (open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm). Calls by BT Text Direct are welcome. Please note that for training and monitoring purposes your call may be recorded.
Information on our complaints process is also available as a downloadable leaflet.