We have been issuing Smartcards since autumn 2014. If you are new to the profession or just now deciding you'd like to make use of the Smartcard, please contact us and we will send you a Smartcard form. Once the application has been successfully processed, we will either send you your Smartcard (as ID, no signature) or  you can book a time to attend a session in your area where your identity will be verified and a Smartcard with digital signature will be issued.

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.

If you would like a Smartcard as ID, i.e. without a digital signature on the chip, we will send it to your registered business address by recorded delivery. You will not have to sign a contract.

However, if you would like to make use of the advantages and possibilities of a digital signature on your Smartcard, then you will need to sign a contract when you collect your 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. One of our 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 with digitial signature.  You will still be able to obtain a Smartcard without signature, which will function as ID. However, you will not be able to use your Smartcard for anything electronic.

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 collecting their Smartcard with digital signature. 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.

When you use your Smartcard for digital signatures or in electronic environments, you need to enter a six-digit PIN code. You choose this code yourself when you collect your Smartcard. It 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 - it's the backup code that allows you to unlock your card in case you enter the incorrect PIN code repeatedly. If you locked your card and can’t remember your PUK code to unlock it, you will need to e-mail us at smartcard@lawscot.org.uk to get a new digital signature.  

For all enquiries about the Smartcard please contact us at smartcard@lawscot.org.uk.

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 cannot provide an answer directly.

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. Since only licensed solicitors with a valid PC can obtain a Smartcard from the Law Society of Scotland, the card immediately identifies you as such to prospective clients, potential employers or security personnel in courts and prisons.

We issue Smartcards 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 within the legal profession.

No, you still have to go through the online process of renewing your practising certificate every year. Your Smartcard provides evidence of your entitlement to practice, though. Since only licensed solicitors with a valid PC can obtain a Smartcard, it immediately identifies you as such to prospective clients, potential employers or security personnel in courts and prisons.

Your Smartcard is valid for up to six years from date of issue. We will send you instructions on how to replace it before your card expires. 

However, the digital certificate on your card - should you have one - needs to be renewed after three years. This will not require a face-to-face meeting with us; you can renew online. Renewal instructions for the digital signature will be sent to you before your signature on the chip 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 ours.  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 smartcard@lawscot.org.uk.

No. Only the person whose name appears on the Smartcard can use the card, either as ID or to digitally sign any documents. 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. The digital dignature on 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 your digital signature on 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 smartcard@lawscot.org.uk, advising us that your card has been lost.

Likewise, if you chose to obtain your Smartcard without digital signature, i.e. just as ID, please contact us immediately at smartcard@lawscot.org.uk. A new card will be prepared and depending on your choice (ID or digital signature) either sent out to you or you will need to book an appointment to collect your replacement 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. This can be done either by using Find a solicitor (using the solicitor's name) or the Solicitor status check (using the solicitor ID on the Smartcard). This provides a robust and secure form of identification.

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 financial operations 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 have a Smartcard, and you don't renew your practising certificate by 31 October, your digital signature (if you have one) will be revoked. In addition, we will ask you to return your Smartcard to us.

No, not per se. It depends on whether you have a Smartcard as ID or a Smartcard with digital signature.

If you have a Smartcard but without a digital signature on the chip, you don't need a new card. In fact, you don't need to do anything; just take the card with you and continue using it to identify yourself as a practising solicitor.

If you have a digital signature on the chip of your Smartcard, it depends on what email address you used when you activated that signature. In case you used your own private email address, then nothing changes and you can continue using your Smartcard as before.

If you used an email address at your now ex-employer, then you need to change the digital signature on your Smartcard. This requires another face-to-face with a member of the Smartcard team, and you need to remember your PIN code. Please check the Smartcard events page to book yourself a spot at any of the listed events to update your digital signature.

Yes, the name you practise under should also be the name printed on your Smartcard. Once you have alerted the Registrar, please contact us at smartcard@lawscot.org.uk. A new card with the correct name will be issued - either send to your business address (Smartcard as ID, no signature) or at one of the Smartcard events.

Yes, of course you can. As long as you have a Scottish practicing certificate, you will be able to receive a Smartcard.

If you decide for a Smartcard as ID (no signature), we will send your card to the business address on file. However, if you would like the digital signature on your Smartcard as well, we will have to arrange for a face-to-face meeting with a member of the Smartcard team - either at any of the events, or at a time you are back visiting in Scotland. Please contact smartcard@lawscot.org.uk to arrange things accordingly.