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 It's increasingly out of date and unfit for purpose.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.

Review of the Regulation of Legal Services


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

The purpose of the review will be to make independent recommendations to reform and modernise the framework for the regulation of legal services and complaints handling.  The review is intended to ensure a proportionate approach to regulation that supports growth in the legal services sector.  It should also place consumer interests firmly at the heart of any system of regulation, including the competitive provision of legal services.  The review will focus on the current regulatory framework, the complaints and redress process for providers of legal services including solicitors and advocates, and ongoing market issues such as investigating the benefits of regulating firms as well as individual solicitors.

Latest updates

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 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