Spotlight on Eligibility
One of the themes which arose from our budget consultation, and which frequently arises at our CPD events, relates to our process for assessing the eligibility of complaints – surely it’s a relatively easy and quick thing to decide whether a complaint is in or out?
As we have outlined in the current edition of The Journal, the process for assessing whether a complaint is eligible is not at all straightforward.
It is unusual for a complaints handling body to have its detailed processes contained in an Act of parliament – this makes for a framework which is inflexible and unable to adapt to an ever-changing landscape. Our paper on legislative change discusses the notion that this is not the way in which modern regulation can be most effective or most efficient.
It’s that efficiency element which is most relevant at the moment. There is no denying the fact that the way we have to deal with eligibility decisions at present is time consuming and costly – on average, the process for assessing whether a complaint is in or out now takes longer than the formal investigation of the complaint. That cannot be what was intended when the SLCC was set up. The continuing rise in complaint numbers – whether those transpire to be eligible or not – simply increases the level of resource required.
So what is the solution? The legislative requirements we have to work to constrain the practical efficiencies we can make – although we do constantly look for ways to improve. A more radical overhaul is required, and we will continue to work with the Law Society and others to press for regulatory reform which eradicates current inefficiencies, both in our processes and others.