This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Legal Services Ombudsman
An interim Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman has been appointed with effect from April 26, 2006.
Jane Irvine takes over from Linda Costelloe Baker, who has resigned to take up post as the UK Visas Independent Monitor, until a permanent appointment can be made.
Proposals set out in the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, currently at Stage 1 of the Scottish Parliamentary process, would see the abolition of the role of the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman.
A Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, with a non-lawyer chair and a non-lawyer majority, would instead receive all complaints against legal practitioners which it has not been possible to resolve at source.
Jane Irvine has specialised in resolving consumer complaints and reviewing the manner of responses to consumer complaints since 1980. Jane acts as an arbitrator and conciliator in a diverse range of consumer issues from holiday to funeral and financial service complaints.
She also sits on the Disciplinary Board of the Institute of Actuaries, acts as a mediator in consumer and commercial disputes and works voluntarily as a Member of the Mediation Panel for Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
As a past HM Lay Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland Ms Irvine reviewed the manner of responses by Scottish Police forces to complaints by members of the public for three years between 2001 and 2004. She was also the elected Chair of the Scottish Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2003-2005.
The appointment of Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman is made under Section 34 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990. The post was advertised on March 31.
The post of Ombudsman is independent of both the Executive and the legal profession. The Ombudsman investigates concerns about the way a professional body, such as the Law Society of Scotland or the Faculty of Advocates, has handled a complaint against a practitioner.
The Ombudsman sends a report of her investigation to the complainer, the practitioner and the professional organisation. If the Ombudsman is not satisfied that the complaint has been handled fairly, efficiently and thoroughly she can make recommendations to the professional body, including payment of compensation for inconvenience or distress caused by the way the complaint was handled.
As Interim Ombudsman Jane Irvine will be vested with the same powers as a permanent Ombudsman.
Ms Irvine was chosen by Scottish Ministers for the post. Her appointment is part-time (30 hours per week), with an annual salary of £55,000. Her office is situated in 17 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3DL.