The Society has been issuing Smartcards since autumn 2014.  If you are new to the profession, please contact the Society and we will send you a Smartcard form.  Once the application has been successfully processed, you can book a timeslot to attend a session in your area where your identity will be verified and a card will be issued.

If the Society has not contacted you about your Smartcard and you currently hold a practising certificate, please enquire at

There is no additional charge for the Smartcard or the card reader, this is a membership service which provides evidence of your entitlement to practice.

Every individual will need to sign a contract when they collect their card. This is a standard contract, and will be identical for everyone. An example is available here.  The covering page gives a summary of some of the key terms. The contract is between the Certification Authority, the Registration Authority and yourself. A member of the Law Society of Scotland team will sign this at the event on behalf of the Society, as Registration Authority, and as an agent acting for the Certification Authority. 

If you do not sign the contract, we cannot issue you a Smartcard.  This means you will have no physical Law Society of Scotland identification, as the Society has ceased to issue the old style ID cards.

Lockton have issued a statement explaining the Smartcard's implications on Master Policy cover. Read the statement.

These two documents are mentioned in the contract solicitors sign when receiving their Smartcard. They form part of the governance background and technical specification of the digital signatures we’re issuing.

Certificate Policy (CP) is a document which aims to state who the different actors/bodies of a public key infrastructure (PKI) are, their roles and their duties.

View the CP for the Smartcard project.

If you’d like to find out more about CPs and PKIs, Wikipedia* features additional information. 

Certification Practice Statement (CPS) is a document from a Certificate Authority or a member of a web of trust which describes their practice for issuing and managing public key certificates. You can read more on Wikipedia*.

View the CPS for the Smartcard project.

* These links are to an external website and its content is subject to change. Care should be taken in using such information.

You need to choose a six-digit PIN code to use with your card. This operates in exactly the same way as the PIN code for your bank card and must be entered whenever you use the card to apply a digital signature or log in to services. You also need to choose an eight-digit PUK code which is the same idea as the PUK code for your mobile phone - it's the backup code that allows you to unlock it if you lock the card by using the incorrect PIN code repeatedly. If you repeatedly enter the wrong PIN code and then can’t remember your PUK code to unlock the card, you will need to e-mail us at to get a new digital signature.  

For all enquiries about the Smartcard please contact the Society by emailing

Even if you see the names of our project partners, like ACA or RedAbogacia, or have questions around indemnity where we may need expertise from Lockton or others, we’d still ask you to only contact us. 

This means we can give you the best possible service and ensure you're put through to the best person in another relevant organisation if we at the Society cannot provide an answer.

European legislation is currently in progress which may require members of all professions to hold a valid professional identity card.  The Smartcard is issued in conjunction with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and is recognised throughout Europe.

The Society will be issuing cards to solicitors holding a current practising certificate.

Not at the moment. The Smartcard is a member benefit for solicitors only. However, in the future a similar product may be available to other groups.

Your Smartcard provides evidence of your entitlement to practice.  In the future, it is planned that the Smartcard will replace the current form of practising certificate issued by the Society.  When this change is made, all members of the Law Society will be informed.

Your Smartcard is valid for up to six years from date of issuance.  The Society will send you renewal instructions before your card expires.  However, the digital certificate on your card requires renewal after three years but this will not require a face-to-face with the Society.  Online renewal instructions will be sent to you before your certificate expires.

Your practising certificate still needs to be renewed online each year.

The company we are working with has already deployed this solution to over 50 sets of professionals and bar associations across Europe over the last few years and some of these organisations have a membership ten times the size of the Society's.  We know this solution works for them and we're confident it will work for us.

The only additional information will be a photograph.  All other data will be the same as held on our main regulatory system, fulfilling the statutory functions around the registration of solicitors.

In a very basic sense, a digital signature could simply be a name at the end of an email or an image of a person's written signature added to an electronic document.  The Smartcard will provide Scottish solicitors with a qualified secure digital signature, the EU digital signature with the highest form of security.

This form of digital signature guarantees the integrity of the text, as well as the authentication. The juridical value it has is for integrity: one is sure the text received is the same that was sent, and that no hacker has changed it.

The card reader is a small device connected to your computer via a USB cable.  This is issued alongside the Smartcard at no extra charge and is required for using the digital signature.

When you receive your Smartcard, you'll be provided with instructions on how to install the necessary software and use the card reader.  Should you encounter any issues, please contact


No.  Only the person whose name appears on the Smartcard can use the card.  Allowing someone else to use your card may give rise to criminal/fraud penalties and possible civil liability if a contract proceeds on a fraudulent signature.  Allowing someone else to use your card is the equivalent of encouraging someone to sign your name on a contract for you. Your Smartcard will be protected by a PIN code to ensure that only you can use it.

If you've lost your card, you can cancel it by using the cancellation code provided to you via email on the day you registered your card.  Please follow this link and enter your cancellation code.  You should also send an immediate email to, advising the Society that your card has been lost.

A new card will be issued but you will need to book an appointment to collect your card.

The guidance for photographs and proof of identity documentation can be found here.

We are encouraging members to focus on showing their new Smartcard card to those who ask for proof of practice, allowing the person to also check the details against the 'live' data on our website Find a solicitor function. This provides a robust and secure form of identification.

We're currently working on a style of paper 'presentation certificate', which will be available to members on request if the Smartcard replaces the existing practising certificate. However, this may be an 'opt in' service as discussions with members so far have suggested the above options are preferred by most.

RedAbogacía - is the trading name for the company Infraestructura Tecnológica del Consejo General de la Abogacía, SLU. They are wholly owned by the Spanish Bar Association, and are the provider of the software and card technology behind this project.

ACA - is the Abogacía Certification Authority (operated by RedAbogacía). This was set up in 2005 to provide EU-compliant digital signatures to Spanish lawyers, and has now authorised more than 80 registration authorities (of which the Law Society of Scotland is now one) across the legal and provisional services sectors in a range of European countries.

An open tender process was followed, which required documentary evidence and pricing information, and also included demonstrations, site visits to current clients and financial due diligence. A key aspect of our stated requirements was a solution which had already been deployed to a profession, ideally lawyers, of significant scale and over a period of time. RedAbogacía achieved the best score in relation to quality and cost, and all due diligence with existing clients and financially assured us they were the ideal partner for this project.

We had tenders from the UK, and from other EU countries, but selected on price, quality and proven track record.

Registration authority - for this project, the Law Society of Scotland is the registration authority - performing the necessary ID checks, issuing cards and digital signatures, and providing accurate information to the certification authority.  

Certification authority - is Abogacía Certification Authority (ACA, operated by RedAbogacía). It meets all key EU and international standards required of certification authorities, holding the required information to allow the issuing and use of a qualified secure digital signature. This saves the Law Society of Scotland the cost, resource commitment and risks of attempting to become a certification authority in its own right within a small market like Scotland, something which we did not consider as viable or desirable when we designed the project specification in 2013 and tendered the project.


If you are in possession of a Smartcard, and you don't renew your practising certificate by 31 October, your digital signature will be revoked.

No, but you will need a new digital certificate on your Smartcard if your email address has changed.  In this instance, please contact Please remember that you will need your PIN to renew the digital certificate.