A SCOTTISH family business famed for its high-end glassware has added its voice to calls for the regulation of the legal profession to be overhauled after spending close to £100,000 pursuing a complaint against a former legal adviser.

Raymond Davidson, who founded Glencairn Crystal in the 1980s, said his family’s experience after filing a claim against an Anderson Strathern lawyer in early 2013 has convinced him that the current system overseen by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) is not fit for purpose.

And, although the maximum amount of compensation his business could hope to receive is set at £20,000, Mr Davidson said he and his sons Scott and Paul are continuing to pursue the matter because they are “past caring about Anderson Strathern - this is about the SLCC”.

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Under the current system complaints are filed with the SLCC, which decides whether they relate to conduct or service issues so it can pass the former onto either the Law Society of Scotland or Faculty of Advocates to deal with while handling the latter itself.

The commission initially rejected the bulk of Glencairn’s complaint only to agree to classify its different elements after the company took the matter to the Court of Session. When the SLCC later ruled that the issues were all service related Glencairn again took the matter to the Court of Session, which ordered the SLCC to look at them again.

After the commission went on to decide that three of the points complained about were a mixture of both service and conduct issues Anderson Strathern took the matter to the court, securing a judgment saying they had to be classed as either one or the other.

Glencairn was eventually successful in having one service strand of the complaint upheld in November 2017, but only after spending 25 times the £4,000 compensation it was awarded. The conduct part of the complaint is still with the Law Society for determination and, if successful, could end up in the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT).

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While Glencairn product development director Scott Davidson said the business is “in the fortunate place where we can afford to see this through”, Raymond Davidson said that as the company would never have got to this stage without making a significant outlay he has concluded that “unless you have deep pockets you don’t get any justice in this country”.

“I would like to think that by taking the complaint to the only authority you can complain to it wouldn’t cost anything, but the reality is that it has cost us £100,000,” he said. “I didn’t think that I was going to have to fight the body that I was appealing to.”

The SLCC itself has long argued that the system for dealing with complaints is in desperate need of reform. Its chief executive Neil Stevenson noted that the organisation believes “the current complaint process takes too long and involves too many organisations”.

“It can also feel overly legalistic and disempowering for those making a complaint,” he said.

That is also the view of NHS 24 chairwoman Esther Roberton, who last year carried out a review of how the legal profession is regulated for the Scottish Government. She recommended that a single, independent regulator should be established for all providers of legal services, with the body likely to take over a significant amount of work from the Law Society, Faculty of Advocates, Association of Commercial Attorneys, SLCC and SDTT.

The SLCC supports that proposal but the Law Society does not, with a recent survey carried out on its behalf suggesting that 93 per cent of solicitors and trainee solicitors believe it should continue to regulate Scottish solicitors.

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Although the Government is yet to respond to the Roberton review, Law Society president Alison Atack said there is “little evidence” in the report to support the need for a new regulator, which the society believes could “increase costs for consumers and weaken professional standards”.

In the meantime, while Glencairn waits for the Law Society to assess the merits of the conduct part of its six-year-old complaint, Mr Stevenson said the SLCC “will keep on working with consumers, the legal professions and their respective representatives to get the changes consumers and the legal sector need”.