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The Society’s revised draft of the regulatory scheme was submitted to the Scottish Government on 16 December 2015. This followed further amendments made in light of comments from the Government and other stakeholders.
After receiving feedback from the Scottish Government on our initial regulatory scheme for licensed legal service providers, the Society has been working on a revised draft scheme. The further draft scheme has now been submitted to the Scottish Government for discussion.
We have had a number of meetings with the Scottish Government over the summer months. The meetings have been helpful and productive but have illustrated that there remains a lot of work to do to produce a regulatory scheme which (1) we regard as workable and effective; (2) successfully navigates around the challenges in the legislation; (3) meets the expectations of the Scottish Government and the requirements of the 2010 Act; and (4) would be regarded by prospective licensed providers as viable, appropriate and proportionate.
The Society continues to work on developing a redrafted regulatory scheme - which is likely to be considerably more detailed and may differ quite significantly from the original draft submitted to the Scottish Government in December 2012. In light of that we have removed the December 2012 material from this page but anyone who wishes more information is welcome to contact us.
The timetable for potential approval remains uncertain - late 2013 or during 2014 remains the Society's most optimistic guess as to when we could, potentially, be authorised to act as an approved regulator but, as much of the process for approval and authorisation is outwith the Society's control, that timetable is subject to change.
The Society has been informed by the Scottish Government that the process for considering our application to become an approved regulator of licensed legal services providers (LPs) will take significantly longer than originally envisaged.
Whilst the Society submitted its scheme last December and has been in discussion with the Scottish Government since, there remain outstanding issues where comments from government are awaited. Even once those are received, it will be some time before the model can be finalised and re-submitted.
The timetable previously given by the Scottish Government was that the Society could be an approved regulator by early April 2013. This has proven to be over-optimistic given what is involved. The new timeframe from the government suggests that approval towards the end of 2013 may be more realistic. The government will have to consult with the Lord President, the Office of Fair Trading and others once it is satisfied with the draft scheme. This is required in the legislation.
Some of the latest government comments suggest that they may now have an issue with our approach. In our draft scheme, we indicate that we would seek to regulate LP entities in as similar a manner as possible to the way in which we currently regulate individuals (so far as the legislation permits). This has always been the Society's stated policy, as discussed with the Scottish Government before and after the passing of the Act.
It has always been the Society's view that this approach is the one most likely to promote achievement of the regulatory objectives, particularly those related to consumer and public protection and the promotion of fair competition. We believe it is both possible and reasonable to adapt a scheme of regulation for individuals to apply to entities. We await confirmation from the government of their policy stance on this matter of principle.
The Society submitted its application to the Scottish Government to become an approved regulator of new licensed legal services providers today, Monday, 3 December. The Scottish Government will be able to approve a maximum of three LP regulators who will be responsible for regulation of the provision of legal services by the new businesses. Scottish Ministers will consult with the Lord President and OFT as part of the approval process.