Scottish legal firms have stated their support for the people of Ukraine and that they will not act for clients connected to the Russian state, following calls by the Law Society of Scotland for the profession to recognise its responsibilities show unity in seeking to uphold the rule of law.

Burness Paull said it would no longer act for any clients with links to the Russian state, while Shepherd and Wedderburn said it would not undertake any work lined to Russia that went against the firm's values. Others have denied links with Russia and expressed their shock at the violations of international law committed in the invasion of Ukraine.

At its meeting on Friday the Society's ruling Council passed a resolution condemning the ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, which it said represented “an egregious breach of the rule of law and an unacceptable attack on democracy”. It agreed that the Society's President, Ken Dalling, should write to Anna Ogrenchuk, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA), expressing its profound sympathy with the people of Ukraine and its solidarity with the profession there and supporting the UBA's call for the United Nations to consider establishing a special international tribunal for Russian officials responsible for the conflict. It also welcomed the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court's intention to open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes committed within Ukraine.

Council further recognised “the important responsibilities of Scottish law firms to comply, in full, with the sanctions and other restrictions imposed on Russia and Belarus by the UK Government”.

The Society's executive team is working to ensure those responsibilities are understood across the profession. Chief executive Diane McGiffen said: “As the regulatory body for the Scottish solicitor profession we will continue to provide robust risk-based regulation and support our members to meet their legal obligations in respect of both the sanctions and Money Laundering Regulations.”

The Education, Training & Qualifications team is reviewing the requirements for any Ukrainian lawyers wishing to requalify into Scotland in light of the challenges currently being faced.

Further support and information on regulation is available via this link.