The Scottish Independence Referendum 2014

A debate of historic proportions

Over the course of 2 years, in the run up to the referendum on Scottish independence in September 2014, we discussed, debated and prepared for what a yes vote or a no vote could mean for the solicitor profession and businesses as well as the Scottish public. We sought to provide fair, reasoned and balanced comment against a heated and intense backdrop, ensuring the voice of Scotland's 11,000 solicitors was heard.

A group of Law Society staff members formed Scotland’s Constitutional Future Working Group, and as part of the two year project, managed and organised a number of member and stakeholder events, fringe meetings at all main political party conferences, facilitated and managed the production of two discussion papers as well as hosting two major conferences in 2014.  

Details of all of these events and links to papers and press statements can be found on the timeline below.  

October 2014

We submittted our evidence to the Smith Commission on devolving further powers to the Scottish Parliament.  Read our statement here.

On 3 and 4 October we held our 2014 annual conference - So what now for Scotland? - at which the result of the referendum and the implications for Scotland and its legal profession was discussed and debated. 

September 2014

Following a historic day for Scotland, on 19 September 2014, we issued a full statement on the result of the independence referendum.

August 2014

To see ourselves as others see us - The Law Society's international debate on the referendum

On 16 August the Society hosted a debate as part of the Festival of Politics.  The event in the Scottish Parliament, chaired by the BBC's Isabel Fraser, included journalists from Japan, Spain and the USA and provided an international perspective as the Scottish referendum campaign reached its climax.

More information can be found in our press release.

The event was recorded and the full video is now available to watch

Scotland's Constitutional Future - the justice debate

The Society hosted a debate at Glasgow Caledonian University on 6 August.  The then Cabinet Secretary fr Justice Kenny MacAskill and the Advocate General Lord Wallace answered questions on the referendum and Scotland's constitutional future. 

More information can be found in our press release.

The event was recorded and the full video is now available to watch.

July 2014

SCOTLAND'S CONSTITUTIONAL FUTURE:  Views, opinions and questions 2

'SCOTLAND'S CONSTITUTIONAL FUTURE:  Views, opinions and questions 2 Outstanding issues and remaining questions on Scotland's Constitutional future' was the Society's second and final paper on Scotland's constitutional future, and was designed to follow up on the work carried out in 2013 when we published Scotland's Constitutional Future: views, opinions and questions and to respond to the White Paper Scotland's Future: your guide to an independent Scotland (see below).

The paper focused on the economy, a Scottish tax regime, currency, EU membership, education, justice and the legal profession.    Despite much debate up until this point, there was still a belief that unanswered questions remained, questions which this paper sought to address.  

The paper can be found here and you can also read our press release.

April 2014

Scotland's Constitutional Future - Law Society of Scotland conference

Our booked to capacity conference in April 2014 featured keynote contributions from Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon MSP and Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael MP. Both set out their arguments on why Scottish solicitors should say yes or no to an independent Scotland. Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University offered expert analysis on the state of the race and what the polls were telling us about the views of those who were to decide Scotland's future.

Through a number of breakout sessions, the conference also explored key topics, such as currency and economics, Scotland's membership of international organisations, political and parliamentary reform and considered what change could mean for the legal profession itself.

You can view the conference on our Vimeo channel.

March 2013

The Scotland Office produced a number of useful analysis documents on the Scottish referendum.

November 2013

On 26 November 2013, the Scottish Government launched the white paper Scotland's Future - your guide to an independent Scotland.

The paper outlined the Scottish Government's vision for an independent Scotland.

Read our press release responding to the white paper.

August 2013

The paper Scotland's Constitutional Future, views, opinions and questions: The Law Society of Scotland's contribution to the independence debate and appendix aimed to inform and add value to the discussion on independence and constitutional reform.

The papers focussed on a number of critical areas including:

  • Scotland's membership of the European Union
  • the impact of independence on the economy
  • judicial and parliamentary restructuring

The papers also provided a detailed analysis of the potential impact of independence on specific areas of both devolved and reserved areas of law.

They also raised important questions about Scotland's future if the electorate chose to remain part of the United Kingdom, particularly around the process and timetable for agreeing possible further devolution of powers from Westminster to Holyrood.

You can read our press release

You can view a video of our then President Bruce Beveridge launching the paper on our Vimeo channel.

February/March 2013

We hosted our first stakeholder roundtable events which set us on the path for the production of our first discussion paper on Scotland's Constitutional Future, highlighted above.  These engagement events allowed us to hear from people outwith the solicitor profession, who informed and enhanced our understanding of the issues, opportunities and risks associated with Scottish independence. To ensure balance, we made a point of inviting representatives from both the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns to each event.

We also drew upon the considerable expertise within our various law reform committees, which covered a broad range of areas, including tax law, pensions, employment and equalities. These committees include not just experienced solicitors with knowledge and experience but also non-solicitors from across civic Scotland.

Further information

You can find all the Society's responses to the pertinent Scottish and UK Government consultations and parliamentary Bills via the link to the left of this page.

If you have any further questions on any of the above, please tweet us @lawscot or email louisedocherty@lawscot.org.uk.