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In some circumstances, it can currently take up to 4.5 months to conduct an initial assessment for some complaints, particularly if they are complex. We are doing everything we can to reduce this time. You can find average timescales for each stage of complaint handling across all types of complaints here.

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission - good practice in assessment - 2012

Key learning outcomes

  • A well-chosen independent panel member can add significant value to panel deliberations during planning and the stages of assessment. 
  • Simulating board activities, such as asking candidates to analyse a board paper, can be better predictors of ability that people’s past experience/CV or interviews alone.  


This was an open competition to find a new chair for the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. This independent Commission is the point of contact for all complaints about lawyers in Scotland. The Public Appointments Adviser who oversaw the round was very positive about the approach taken to assessment and also the inclusion of an independent panel member who brought a useful challenge function to the deliberations of the panel.


The Selection Panel was chaired by Colin McKay, Deputy Director, Civil Law and Legal System Division, Scottish Government. The rest of the Panel comprised Stephen Humphreys, Executive Director, Judicial Office for Scotland and Marieke Dwarshuis, Director, Consumer Focus Scotland. The Adviser told us that this independent person was a very valuable member of the panel. She brought a valuable external stakeholder perspective to the panel’s discussions and deliberations, and throughout the round she often took the role of 'critical friend', disagreeing respectfully but assertively, knowledgeably and persuasively with her two colleagues, in the best interests of both the role and the public that it is intended to serve.

The Adviser also told us that the round was smoothly and efficiently conducted. All applications and interviewees were given thorough and careful attention. The interviews included a practical assessment exercise. All applicants were provided with a recent SLCC Board Paper along with their invitation to attend for interview. Applicants were asked to provide a five minute presentation setting out their thoughts on the issues raised in the paper and how they would address these as SLCC chair. The Panel then asked questions on the issues raised in the presentation, before moving on to the further questioning also designed to assess whether applicants met the criteria required for the role of chair.

The independent panel member covered

  • engagement with stakeholders
  • an understanding of diversity issues and 
  • complaints handling and consumer affairs. 

The Adviser confirmed that the practical exercise, alongside follow up questioning, was a very effective and useful tool for assessment. 


You can find out who was appointed by reading the press release.

Relevant content

Board paper exerciseDowload the board paper

More information

You can obtain more detailed information on the approaches taken by contacting Ian Bruce, the Public Appointments Manager in the ESC office:
Tel: 0131 347 3897