Major reform is needed to the way legal services are regulated, the Law Society of Scotland has said.
Reacting to the launch of a new Scottish Government 12-week consultation “Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland” today, Friday, 1 October, the professional body of 12,000 Scottish solicitors said reform was long overdue. However, the legal regulator cautioned against changes which could increase costs on consumers and damage the competitiveness of Scottish law firms.
President of the Law Society of Scotland, Ken Dalling said: “The Scottish Government’s own independent review concluded that Scotland is home to a well-educated, well respected legal profession with a high degree of public trust. It said there was “little evidence of significant wrongdoing in the current model.
“However, we know reforms to the current system are long overdue. Much of the legislation covering legal regulation is over 40 years old and has failed to keep pace with modern practice.
“The system for handling legal complaints is slow, complex and expensive to operate. Rigid regulatory processes all too often place a straitjacket on the Law Society and prevent us from stepping in quickly to protect the public interest when we need to. This is why we have repeatedly pressed the Scottish Government to bring forward reform.
“However, some of the options presented in the government’s consultation risk undoing much of what already works well within the current system. We know the cost of legal services is one of the biggest barriers to people getting the advice they need. Yet the paper presents an option of creating a brand-new regulatory body, adding substantial costs which consumers would ultimately have to bear. This threatens the competitiveness of the Scottish legal sector, just as we recover from the COVID pandemic, and risks a loss of jobs to other parts of the UK.
“The government needs to take great care in protecting the strengths of the existing regulatory system but delivering the kind of change we need for the benefit of the public and the legal profession."
The consultation is available to read on the Scottish Government website.