Proposed new legislation to protect consumers and grow legal services
As part of our strategy “Leading Legal Excellence”, we set out our ambition to secure a modern, flexible and enabling legislative framework for our work.
Most of the legislation covering the operation and regulation of the legal market is over 35 years old. It's increasingly out of date and unfit for purpose. Whilst some reforms were brought in 2007 and 2010, the whole framework can be confusing and, in some cases, contradictory.
That is why we believe new legislation is needed to better protect consumers and allow the Scottish legal services market to thrive.
Priorities for the Scottish Parliament
In January 2016, we published a detailed set of priorities for the Holyrood elections and the next term of the Scottish Parliament. This included a call for Scotland’s political parties to commit to a modern, fit-for-purpose framework for legal services in Scotland which;
- Maintains the advantages of the current system, including the independence of the legal profession, a robust system of co-regulation involving strong professional bodies and an independent complaints handling organisation and discipline tribunal
- Provides a more agile system of consumer protection and addresses the rise of the unregulated legal services market
- Allows flexible regulation that reflects the rise of alternative business models, cross-border firms and internationalisation of the sector
- Enables the Law Society to respond to the changing needs of its members and to open up associate forms of membership to other legal professionals, including paralegals and legal executives
Detailed submission to the Scottish Government
In March 2016, we published the detailed prospectus we presented to the Scottish Government. It sets out the need for change in greater detail and includes proposals for;
- better regulation of legal firms (‘entity regulation’) in addition to the regulation of individual solicitors to protect consumers,
- new powers to suspend solicitors suspected of serious wrongdoing,
- opening the Law Society’s membership in order to improve standards amongst other legal professionals
- the ability for the Society to regulate legal work beyond the domestic Scottish jurisdiction in order to provide simpler regulation for cross border firms,
- more flexible business models which allow legal firms to adapt to market changes.
Read the full submission
Read our response to the Competition & Markets Authority's Interim Report on the Legal Services Market
Read our response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) consultation: Looking to the future - flexibility and public protection
We are now engaging with political parties, consumer groups and others in the legal sector to build a consensus in favour of change with an aim of getting a new Bill introduced early in the new term of the Scottish Parliament.
For more information on this project, please contact our Legislative Change Executive, Brian Simpson