The Law Society of Scotland has set out a comprehensive programme for reform in the run up to this year’s Scottish elections, which includes measures to enhance access to justice, boost economic recovery, improve diversity and drive legislative change.

In its wide-ranging programme published today, 3 February, the Law Society has made over 40 recommendations and is calling for the next Scottish Government to drive progress in improving access to justice, including urgent action on legal aid reform, to ensure that people can resolve legal issues and effectively uphold their rights. The professional body for Scotland’s solicitors has also said there is a need for legislation to deliver a modern system of regulation for the legal sector which will better protect consumers and boost the sector’s success in an increasingly competitive global market.

The document, which covers six key policy areas and is underpinned by a theme of respect for the rule of law and human rights, also sets out a need to prioritise reforming the law on fatal accident inquiries, adult incapacity and mental health, the environment, charities and taxes.

The key policy areas are:

  • Protecting access to justice
  • Modernising regulation of legal services
  • Boosting economic recovery
  • Shaping Scotland’s legal and constitutional future
  • Enhancing the diversity of the legal profession
  • Driving public policy and law reform

Amanda Millar, President of the Law Society, said: “This year’s election will be held against a background of extraordinary change. Covid-19 and Brexit create immediate challenges which demand immediate focus, but by bringing forward our priorities in the next Parliament, Scotland can emerge as a more vibrant, inclusive and dynamic nation.

“We have worked extensively to drive progress in protecting and enhancing access to justice, but reforming legal aid must now be taken forward with urgency. It is also vital that we move forward with legislation to deliver a modern system of regulation for the legal profession to benefit consumers, the legal profession and the public interest.

“Scotland’s legal sector is at the heart of our economy and will play a vital role in creating a more resilient and globally competitive country. We call for Government backing to promote legal services at home and overseas, and for our aspirations to become a true global hub for digital innovation, including legaltech. Long-overdue reform of the laws governing access to finance will also make us a more attractive home for innovative businesses, particularly in our leading growth sectors.

“Our public policy priorities include reform of Fatal Accident Inquiries, vital to rebuild public faith in the system.

“Underpinning all our priorities is respect for the rule of law, a vital and fundamental feature of our democracy. With our constitutional future subject to debate, this respect will be critical. I urge all those seeking public office to commit not just to comply with, but to champion the rule of law and respect for democracy.”