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 It is increasingly out of date and unfit for purpose.  While some reforms were brought in 2007 and 2010, the whole framework can be confusing and, in some cases, contradictory. New legislation is needed to better protect consumers and allow the Scottish legal services market to thrive. You can read more about what we currently do to protect the public through our regulation of Scottish solicitors.

Independent review

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. Esther Roberton led the review and published her report Fit for the Future - Report of the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland on 23 October 2018.

The report makes 40 recommendations, some of which reflect those we made to the Scottish Government and in response to the review's call for evidence in early 2018, such as restricting use of the term 'lawyer', regulation at entity level and the need for flexible, proportionate regulation. While we support several of the report's recommendations, we are strongly opposed to the principal recommendation for a new, single regulatory body. You can read more in our news release commenting on the report and our short summary document.

Watch our video to find out why the legal services review matters
Key dates

The Scottish Government made its response to the report on the legal services review on 25 June 2019 - you can read the response on the government's website.

The Law Society's Regulatory Committee submitted its response in June with a covering letter to the Scottish Government which are available to read. 

The Competition and Markets Authority also submitted a response on 17 June 2019.

The Law Society Council's December 2018 letter to the Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham, is also available to read

The Law Society's Council submitted a 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 legal services review recommendations  and the Law Society's proposed complaints model.

The 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 Government's website at Regulation of Legal Services.

The Society's news release on the report is available to read on our website: Proposed reforms of legal services regulation pose unnecessary risk to consumer protections.

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

In March 2018 we published a Case for Change paper in response to the review group's call for evidence.

In this 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.

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