We planned to influence the creation of a fairer and more just society by being an international centre of excellence in thought leadership.

2017-18 highlights

We commented on 25 bills passing through Westminster and Holyrood

158 consultations responded to9 across UK and Scottish governments and EU commission

Influence projects
Action Summary of progress for the year Complete/Not complete
Public Policy
We will progress the three projects as agreed the Public Policy Committee around medical records, common good property and establishing an Equality Ombudsman whilst continuing to respond to legislation and other relevant public consultations.
We progressed three Public Policy committee projects over the course of the year.

Our Common Property project completed and we are currently looking at opportunities for a Members Bill at the Scottish Parliament.

Our Equality and Human Rights Ombuds project was published to key stakeholders. The feedback from these was not positive, and it was agreed by the Public Policy committee in October 2018 not to pursue government commitment to the reform, instead taking the learning from this project into a wider review of ADR by the Access to Justice committee.

Our Access to Medical Records project has not completed. A roundtable event took place and a consultation paper was shared with stakeholders. A report and guidelines around access to medical records has been drafted and we aim to publish in Q1 of 2018-19.
Not complete
We will continue to provide a leading voice as the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union moves forward and ensure the interests of our members feature as decisions are taken on the country’s new relationship with Europe.
We participated in a session on the Treaty of Rome (and the implications of Brexit on the EU) at the IBA. We gave evidence to the SP Finance & Constitution Committee on Common UK Frameworks and to the UK parliament Scottish Affairs Committee on Trade and foreign investment after Brexit. We have submitted responses to the SP inquiries on Brexit Preparedness and Common UK Frameworks.

Submitted Journal article on impact on practice rights for Scottish solicitors based in UK (following last month’s for solicitors based in EU); have received some queries from members as a result.
Legal Aid Review
We will work with the independent review of legal aid and seek to ensure the project delivers an improved system of legal aid which serves vulnerable clients and properly remunerates solicitors.
We provided final submissions to the independent strategic review of legal aid, responded to the publication of the independent review, developed policy positions around each of the recommendations, started work with SLAB around single grant reform and informally discussed the outcome of the review with Scottish Government. We anticipate a formal Scottish Government response to the review in Q1 late in 2018, with a consultation in 2019.

We also responded to the challenges around the implementation of Part I of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 in January 2018. The level of remuneration for police station advice remains an ongoing concern.
Criminal and civil justice reform
We will represent the interests of our members and the public as reforms are brought forward to our justice system, including the outcomes of the criminal evidence and procedure review, legislation to reform civil litigation and the Criminal Justice Act.
We responded to all relevant legislation, providing oral evidence to Parliaments on many of these, and to all consultations relevant to the justice sector.

At the Scottish Parliament including Vulnerable Witnesses, Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility, Civil Litigation, Social Security, Islands, Offensive Behaviour, Prescription and Planning Bills. At the Westminster Parliament, this included Data Protection, Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) and EU Withdrawal Bills.

We also participated in a number of groups and projects around justice sector reform, including the Criminal Evidence and Procedure working groups, the Criminal Justice Disability project forum and the video-conferencing project board.
International promotion
We will seek to harness UK and Scottish government support to promote the Scottish legal services market internationally through representation at key events, business development support for members and the launch of Scottish Legal International.
Successful IBA, participated in a conference session on Treaty of Rome; organised a well-attended breakfast meeting with A-G and senior civil servants; participated in important bar meetings with international colleagues on maximising value of IBA membership for bars.

Hosted SLI member reception with SDI. Have since had round-up meeting with SDI and SLI steering group to discuss what the work plan will be for 2018/19, how to make more of attendance at international events, including relevant training points. SDI has arranged St Andrew’s night event in London to which SLI members are invited.

Well-received participation at International Regulators conference at the Hague on AML and Equality & Diversity sessions; have bid to host 2019 conference.

Received invitation to participate in high-level UK-US roundtable event on trade in legal services in Washington and have had further meetings to scope our participation. Carried out a survey of all OBs since 2010 to find out how valuable they found their international travel/events attendance. These results will be added to a wider evaluation of our international engagement. We hosted a delegation from the Danish bar who were on a complaints fact-finding mission.

Annual report 2018

Our annual report covers our performance against the objectives set out in our 2017/18 annual plan. This was the third year of activity under our Leading Legal Excellence strategy.