Protection of the independent nature of the legal profession, and an efficient, modern administration framework proportionate to the task in hand are the priorities for the Glasgow Bar Association in any reform of the regulation of legal services, the GBA has stated.
In its response to the Scottish Government consultation on options for reform, which closed on Christmas Eve, the GBA supports and adopts the position taken by the Law Society of Scotland, which rejected the two options involving an external regulator, whether operating as sole regulator or in conjunction with the professional bodies. The Society supports the option retaining its present responsibilities for regulation, with strengthened independence and transparency of its regulatory function.
The GBA sets out its "priorities as members of the bar" as:
- to ensure the ongoing independent nature of our profession, which would be harmed if options one and two were to be adopted;
- to allow regulation to be brought up to date within a modernisation of the current framework, reflect the impact of technology; and
- "to have at the heart of any further regulation an approach which is focused on speedy resolution and administration and costs which are commensurate with the task in hand". While the focus is on protection of consumers, regulation requires to be proportionate. It adds that self-governance of those costs as currently happens with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission cannot continue, given the above inflation rises seen at the SLCC in recent years.
An independent legal profession, the GBA states, "must have the ability to challenge the machine of government, uphold the rule of law and safeguard civil liberties and human rights. The primary recommendation of the Roberton report does not, in our opinion, support this goal. To use a model not endorsed anywhere else would seem to be ill advised".
It further comments that it is "impossible to make informed decisions about the new options proposed without a costings schedule".