In our strategy, Leading Legal Excellence, we set out our ambition to secure a modern, flexible and enabling legislative framework.

Most of the legislation covering the operation and regulation of the legal market is over 35 years old. It's increasingly out of date and unfit for purpose.  Whilst some reforms were brought in 2007 and 2010, the whole framework can be confusing and, in some cases, contradictory.

That is why we believe new legislation is needed to better protect consumers and allow the Scottish legal services market to thrive.

Background

An independent review of the regulation of legal services was announced by the then Minister of Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing on 25 April 2017.

The purpose of the review was to make independent recommendations to reform and modernise the framework for the regulation of legal services and complaints handling. The review was led by Esther Roberton and her report was published in October 2018. The report makes 40 recommendations, some of which reflect those we made to the Scottish Government and in our response to the review's call for evidence in early 2018.

The full report Fit for the Future’ Report of the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government website. You can read our news release from October commenting on the report. Our letter to the Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham, and additional documents on the report's recommendations and our proposals for a complaints model are also available.

 

Latest updates

We submitted our response to the Scottish Government in December 2018. You can read the President's letter to the Minister for Community Safety and additional documents on the Roberton Review recommendations and our proposed complaints model.

The Roberton report on the independent review of legal services in Scotland was published on 23 October 2018. The report is available to read on the Scottish Goverment's website: Regulation of Legal Services

In March 2018, we submitted our response to the review group's call for evidence on the review of legal services:

In January 2018, we submitted proposals for wide-ranging reforms that will allow us to keep pace with global developments within the sector and improve consumer protection. In our paper, we set out a series of recommendations which include expanding consumer protections to currently unregulated areas of legal services, regulating firms operating beyond Scotland and overhauling the legal complaints system, which it says is overly complex, expensive and lacks proper oversight.

The recommendations also include:

  • expanding consumer protections to currently unregulated areas of legal services
  • better regulation of legal firms as entities in addition to the regulation of individual solicitors to better protect consumers
  • new powers to suspend solicitors suspected of serious wrongdoing
  • widening the Law Society’s membership to improve standards amongst other legal professionals
  • protection of the term ‘lawyer’ to mean those who are legally trained and are regulated

Read our written evidence

In March 2018, we published our response to the review group's call for written evidence

Read our proposals

In January 2018, we published our detailed paper we submitted to the Independent Review of Legal Services
Detailed submission to the Scottish Government

In March 2016, we published the detailed prospectus we presented to the Scottish Government. It sets out the need for change in greater detail and includes proposals for

  • better regulation of legal firms (‘entity regulation’) in addition to the regulation of individual solicitors to protect consumers
  • new powers to suspend solicitors suspected of serious wrongdoing
  • opening up our membership in order to improve standards amongst other legal professionals
  • the ability for us to regulate legal work beyond the domestic Scottish jurisdiction in order to provide simpler regulation for cross border firms
  • more flexible business models which allow legal firms to adapt to market changes. 

Read our response to the Competition & Markets Authority's Interim Report on the Legal Services Market

Read our response to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) consultation: Looking to the future - flexibility and public protection

We are now engaging with political parties, consumer groups and others in the legal sector to build a consensus in favour of change with an aim of getting a new Bill introduced early in the new term of the Scottish Parliament.

For more information on this project, please contact our Legislative Change Executive, Brian Simpson.

Priorities for the Scottish Parliament

In January 2016, we published a detailed set of priorities for the Holyrood elections and the next term of the Scottish Parliament.  This included a call for Scotland’s political parties to commit to a modern, fit-for-purpose framework for legal services in Scotland which;

  • Maintains the advantages of the current system, including the independence of the legal profession, a robust system of co-regulation involving strong professional bodies and an independent complaints handling organisation and discipline tribunal
  • Provides a more agile system of consumer protection and addresses the rise of the unregulated legal services market
  • Allows flexible regulation that reflects the rise of alternative business models, cross-border firms and internationalisation of the sector
  • Enables the Law Society to respond to the changing needs of its members and to open up associate forms of membership to other legal professionals, including paralegals and legal executives