A former director of Citizens Advice Edinburgh has been appointed to lead the Law Society’s regulatory work.
Craig Cathcart, senior lecturer at Queen Margaret University’s Business School, has been appointed convener of the Regulatory Committee. Craig, who took up the role this month, has been a member of the committee since 2013. He replaces former headteacher Carole Ford, who has been convener since the committee was established in June 2011.
With a background specialising in consumer matters, business regulation and dispute resolution, as well as experience in trading standards and the advice sector, he is ideally placed to take forward the work of the committee.
The Regulatory Committee has oversight of all of the Society’s regulatory functions including admission of new solicitors, setting standards and rules for trainees and solicitors, financial compliance and anti-money laundering, complaints, and intervening when something goes wrong at a firm. The committee reports to, but is independent of the Society’s Council. It is 50:50 solicitor and non-solicitor and is required to have a lay chairperson to ensure independent oversight of regulation.
Alison Atack, President, said: “I am delighted that someone with such a strong consumer background will be helping to lead the Law Society’s regulatory work. With the Scottish Government considering Esther Roberton’s report on the regulation of legal services, Craig takes up the role at a very important time.
“We have long argued for reform of the current regulatory framework, parts of which are almost 40 years old and are, quite simply, no longer fit for purpose in regulating today’s legal services sector. While we strongly oppose the overarching recommendation to create an entirely new regulatory body, we support many of the recommendations for change in Esther Roberton’s recently published report. A number of her suggestions were based on our proposals, and we will continue to press for a regulatory framework which supports the legal sector and places consumer protection at its heart.
“I am certain that Craig’s professional and academic knowledge and expertise will see him drive forward the work of the Regulatory Committee as he picks up the reins from Carole Ford. As the very first convener of the committee, Carole has led the changes which have increased transparency and improved the appeal and review system. She has also been a consistent champion of reforms to the complaints handling process to make it quicker, simpler and more efficient. I thank her for everything that she has done in leading this critical area of work.”
Craig Cathcart said: “I would also like to thank Carole for the work she has done. She has guided the committee expertly during the past seven years and will be a hard act to follow.
“I am looking forward to taking on this role, particularly during this time when regulation of legal services is very much in the spotlight. I strongly believe that solicitors play a vital role in civic society and I am delighted to work towards strengthening both the legal profession in Scotland, and the public’s confidence in it.”
Craig is a time-served academic who teaches a range of business and dispute resolution subjects at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. He studied law at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, before qualifying as a trading standards officer and working for several Scottish local authorities. He later gained a Masters degree in mediation and conflict resolution. He has taught a range of consumer protection, business and dispute resolution subjects at Glasgow Caledonian, Queen Margaret, and Strathclyde universities. Subject specialisms include mediation, negotiation, ADR, business law, marketing, management and leadership.
In recent years Craig has used his insights into consumer and regulatory matters to develop a widely sought expertise in the area of dispute resolution. He is a consultant and trainer in complaint management and dispute resolution, with clients including the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales, and the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman.
For several years Craig was a professional examiner for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. He is also a former director of Citizens Advice Edinburgh. An accredited mediator, Craig is a trustee of Scottish Mediation.
The Law Society of Scotland Regulatory Committee was created by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010. It is a committee of the Law Society’s Council but acts independently. The Regulatory Committee remit is to set, maintain and enforce standards in the interests of the public and the profession. It is responsible for the oversight of the Society’s regulatory functions and must be chaired by a lay member. The committee consists of 10 members, five solicitors and five non-solicitors. The committee elects the convener from its lay members.
The committee members are:
Prof. Alan Paterson
Craig Cathcart (Convener)
Prof. James Gallagher