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This briefing paper deals with the current procedure and qualifying criteria for making complaints against solicitors and other lawyers across the United Kingdom. 

In each jurisdiction, anyone who is dissatisfied with the service provided by their lawyer should first complain directly to them.

England and Wales

The Legal Ombudsman is responsible for dealing with complaints about poor service against lawyers in England and Wales. 

Issues of professional misconduct are dealt with by the relevant “approved regulator” – for example, the Bar Standards Board (for barristers) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (for solicitors). 


The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) deals with complaints about inadequate professional service against legal practitioners in Scotland.  

The SLCC passes complaints about the conduct of legal practitioners to the appropriate professional organisation to investigate. 

The SLCC can look at the way a conduct complaint was handled by a professional organisation.

In October 2018, the report of a Review of the Regulation of Legal Services, which was set up by the Scottish Government, recommended, among other things, the creation of a single, independent regulator for all providers of legal services in Scotland who should be responsible for complaints handling.

In June 2019 the Scottish Government published a formal response to the report and outlined how it intended to proceed.  The Scottish Government said it was working with the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to identify and consider improvements that might be made to the legal complaints system in the interim without the requirement for primary legislative change.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Law Society of Northern Ireland deals with complaints against solicitors, and the Professional Conduct Committee of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland considers complaints against barristers.  The Legal Complaints and Regulation Act (NI) 2016 will, when fully implemented, provide for a new complaints process which will be led by lay people, and not by legal professionals.

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