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

Key facts and figures

Action Outcome Complete/Not complete
UK withdrawal from the European Union
We will continue to provide a leading, non-partisan voice as the UK moves towards leaving the European Union in March 2019, ensuring the interests of the profession and the public are properly considered by political decision makers.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU throughout 2019 we continued in our own planning and participation in the Brexit process.
This included:
  • detailed examination of all Brexit-themed legislation and consideration of related secondary legislation
  • Continued participation in the Lord Chancellor’s Brexit Law Committee
  • Continued engagement with the UK and Scottish governments on Brexit (specifically no-deal) planning
  • Regular and meaningful engagement with members in the form of focus groups, webinars, articles, blogs and responses to individual queries
  • Examination of our own practice rules and draft admissions regulations to ensure that they were “Brexit-proofed” and that necessary steps were taken to approve the required changes in advance of 31 October
  • Ongoing internal advice provision, including to HR on guidance for EU employees, and to colleagues through our internal channels.
  • Engagement with other EU bars either directly or through CCBE and management of CCBE relationship
  • Complete
    Legal aid
    We will advocate for a realistic level of legal aid funding and for fee rates consistent with reasonable remuneration. In addition, we will push for additional funding for Scotland’s legal aid system and work with the Scottish Government as legislation is developed to implement recommendations from the independent review of legal aid.

    Through 2018-19 we advocated for sustainable funding for legal aid while reducing the bureaucracy of the system.

    Legal aid fees were increased by 3% across all types in April 2019, a step forward while the expert legal aid fee review framework panel carries out its work. Our legal aid conveners have participated on the panel as representatives, we have presented to and prepared research for the panel and await the outcome of this process at year end.

    We responded to the Scottish Government consultation on legal aid reform, highlighting the importance of fees, simplification and a new approach to outlays, while maintaining that targeted intervention and new statutory powers were unnecessary.

    Social mobility
    We will take forward our action plan in response to the Fair Access to the Legal Profession report, expanding our Street Law programme, encouraging the fair and open recruitment processes and supporting the Lawscot Foundation.

    We conducted a Street Law in the Community pilot project. This may develop into a future initiative with an alternative partner in a more central location to increase participation.

    Work has begun on employer education in social mobility – new website pages published along with several complementary articles, a pilot project with RARE recruitment bringing contextualised recruitment to Scotland and a well-attended session at our annual conference for members to discuss the issue. Plans to evolve this further are in place for next year.

    We reached £81.5K income for the Lawscot Foundation by 31 October. We signed up two new sponsors Lockton and Burness Paull.

    International Trade in Legal Services
    We will to seek to ensure that, post-Brexit, our members maintain access to international clients and markets and have access to resources devoted to promoting legal services internationally.

    We have ensured that Scottish interests are represented in UK-wide consideration of trade in legal services by responding to numerous UK parliamentary and Department for International Trade (DIT) inquiries and consultations on the UK’s future trading position and by appointing a colleague to the DIT’s Expert Trade Advisory Group.

    We positioned ourselves as integral to Scottish trade discussions by briefing MSPs in advance of a parliamentary debate on Scotland as a trading nation, organising a high-profile trade themed round-table with the University of Edinburgh and briefing the Scottish Government on Scottish trade interests to enable them to participate fully in discussions with their UK government counterparts.

    On an international stage, we hosted a well-received panel session at the World Trade Organisation Public Forum in Geneva.

    On creating opportunities for our members, we held a roundtable with our firms and the South African High Commissioner to the UK to identify new business opportunities; developed a programme for an African legal services trade mission; held three international trade events, including the Lord Mayor of London and ICCA; and participated in three overseas UK DiT Legal tech trade missions that promote Scottish firms’ innovation. We recently also hosted the High Commissioner of Namibia to explore partnership opportunities between our countries.

    We had increased contact with Scottish Development International to ensure that legal services form a key part of their promotional efforts and we are developing a new approach to supporting Scottish Legal International with Scottish Enterprise.

    Public Policy committee priorities
    We will undertake new proactive policy projects on reform of co-habitants’ rights and improvements to the treatment of vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.

    We completed projects on cohabitants rights and on vulnerable accused persons.

    We carried out our planned work in relation to the law on cohabitation in the first half of the year. We ran a public consultation and engaged with the Scottish Law Commission. We published a proposal paper in March 2019 which was promoted to our membership, stakeholders and Scottish Government, responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Succession Law Reform in May 2019, incorporating relevant parts of our report in our response. We have since engaged further with Scottish Government and the Scottish Law Commission around implementation of this reform.

    The Report on the Vulnerable Person’s project, initiated by our Criminal Law Committee, was published in April 2019 which focused on people being treated consistently and fairly within the criminal justice system. The report made five recommendations to improve how vulnerable accused people are identified and progressed through the criminal justice system.

    Work has continued following up on these recommendations.