We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services. If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us.
We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf.
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:
Please note: This procedure is not a means to deal with all instances of challenges to the many decisions that we take on applications and accounts. It is only relevant to a SLAB decision should there be a clear and obvious dissatisfaction expressed in the way in which we have come to that decision.
If other procedures or rights of appeal will help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.
Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by our services can make a complaint to us.
This includes representing someone who is dissatisfied with our service (for example, a relative, friend, advocate or adviser). If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, you will normally need their written consent.
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. Talk to a member of our staff in the department you are complaining about, and 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 you are not satisfied with the response we give at this stage, we will tell you what you can do next.
If you choose to, you can take your complaint to stage two. You must normally ask us to consider your complaint at stage two either:
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.
If you do not wish your complaint to be handled at stage one, you can ask us to handle it at stage two instead.
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:
Contact the SPSO
Freephone: 0800 377 7330
Address: SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4NS
[NB: If you would like to request a Freepost envelope from SPSO, please contact their freephone above or use the SPSO contact form.]
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.
Contact the SLCC
By post: The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, 12-13 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Telephone: 0131 201 2130
Legal aid work
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 by contacting The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.
Telephone: 0131 510 9410
You can also find out about advisers in your area through Citizens Advice Scotland.
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, please tell us in person, contact us on 0131 226 7061 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).
You can find specific team contact details on our Contact us page.
Information on our complaints process is also available as a downloadable leaflet.