Protect consumers and cut bureaucracy by devolving estate agency to Scotland, Law Society says
People buying or selling property in Scotland would be better protected if the regulation of estate agency was devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the Law Society of Scotland said today, Monday 6 July.
The regulation of estate agency across the UK is covered by the Estate Agents Act 1979. Estate agency carried out by Scottish solicitors is regulated by the Law Society of Scotland.
Giving evidence to the Smith Commission last year, the Law Society argued strongly for estate agency to be devolved, highlighting the different practice of law in Scotland.
The Society has since suggested that the Scotland Bill currently going through the UK Parliament should be amended to deliver this. That amendment has been tabled by Alistair Carmichael MP for debate today in the House of Commons.
Christine McLintock, president of the Law Society said: “Buying, selling or renting a property can be a complex and stressful experience. That is why it is so important to get access to the right advice and expertise and to ensure that work is properly regulated.
“Conveyancing law and the property market in Scotland operate quite differently from the rest of the UK. There is also a far greater practice of solicitors carrying out estate agency work, providing an integrated service to those with property to sell or rent.
“By devolving the regulation of estate agency, the Scottish Parliament could create law which is more closely aligned to the Scottish legal system and better protect the needs of Scottish consumers.”
The Law Society also argued that devolving estate agency could help avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and increased costs for new forms of legal services providers carrying out estate agency work.
Christine McLintock added, “Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2010 allows for new forms of solicitor and non-solicitor owned legal practices. We hope to become a regulator of these new firms by the end of this year.
“However, the 2010 Act was unable to allow approved regulators of these new providers to regulate their estate agency work alongside legal services.
“It means these new providers would be regulated by one regulator for legal services and regulated by another for their estate agency work. This all risks unnecessary bureaucracy for these new providers as they have to work to the requirements of multiple regulators. It also risks increased costs for consumers and creating a complex and confusing system.
“By devolving the regulation of estate agency to the Scottish Parliament, the law could be more easily changed to allow the same regulator to regulate estate agency and legal services, like conveyancing, on a more consistent basis.”
6 JULY 2015
Notes to Editor
All the Law Society’s briefings and the proposed amendments on the Scotland Bill can be found on our website
Currently estate agency is reserved to the UK Parliament and is regulated by the Estate Agents Act 1979. The Act has an exemption which allows Scottish solicitors to undertake estate agency work without being subject to its requirements.
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