§ 34. Mr. Nicholas Brown
asked the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the Law Society's latest proposals for dealing with complaints against solicitors.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Patrick Mayhew)
Subject to the jurisdiction, civil and criminal, of the courts of law, it is for the profession to provide arrangements for handling complaints against solicitors. The latest proposals are the most recent in a series of measures promoted by the Law Society with that objective.
§ Mr. Brown
In the light of the comments by Coopers and Lybrand about the inefficiency of the old Professional Purposes Department, will the Government be carefully monitoring the performance of the new Solicitors Complaints Bureau? Given that complaints against solicitors now number about 9,000 per year, does the Solicitor-General think that the proposed total staffing of 150 persons to deal with those cases is sufficient? Would it not do more for public confidence in the complaints procedure if the bureau were truly independent of the Law Society?
§ The Solicitor-General
No profession can hope to exist immune from any scrutiny, but professions can benefit from the scrutiny of a Royal Commission, for example. That is exactly what the legal profession underwent a few years ago. The Benson Royal Commission recommended that those jurisdictions should remain within the Law Society, but that investigation and adjudication should be separated. That is what the Law Society now proposes. The investigating committee will have a majority of lay members. Of course, the Government will be interested in the progress of the new arrangements when they come into force, but it will be for the Law Society to man them properly. We shall see how it gets on.