Introduction and history

What is the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010?

The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 aims to allow solicitors to provide legal services via a range of different business models which are currently prohibited - such as allowing non-solicitor partners, working in partnership with other professionals (multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs)), and external ownership. The Act, introduced as a Bill by the Scottish Government to the Scottish Parliament on 30 September 2009, is permissive rather than prescriptive legislation to allow increased choice for those running law firms. Traditionally structured solicitor practices will remain.

The Bill also provides:

  • regulatory objectives and professional principles which will apply to regulated businesses and legal professionals
  • powers allowing Scottish ministers to approve and authorise regulators to license legal services providers
  • requirements for all licensed providers to appoint suitably qualified persons responsible for ensuring that the business complies with the regulatory scheme and professional principles
  • safeguards to ensure that those owning or directing a licensed provider are fit and proper persons

The Act received royal assent on 7 November 2010.