Former Citizens Advice director to lead Law Society of Scotland’s regulatory work

Written by Jenni Davidson on 11 January 2019 in News

Queen Margaret University lecturer Craig Cathcart will convene the committee that oversees regulation of solicitors in Scotland

Craig Cathcart - Image credit: Law Society of Scotland

Former director of Citizens Advice Edinburgh Craig Cathcart has been appointed to lead the Law Society of Scotland’s work regulating solicitors in Scotland.

Cathcart will convene of the Law Society’s regulatory committee, which has oversight of all the body’s regulatory functions.

This includes admission of new solicitors, setting standards and rules for trainees and solicitors, financial compliance and anti-money laundering, complaints handling, and intervening when something goes wrong at a law firm.

The committee reports to the Law Society’s council, but it is independent of it.

Its chair and half of its members must be non-solicitors to ensure independent oversight of the profession.

Cathcart, who took up the role this month, has been a member of the committee since 2013.

He is a senior lecturer at Queen Margaret University’s Business School, where he teaches on subjects relating to business and dispute resolution, and has a background in consumer affairs, business regulation and dispute resolution, as well as experience in trading standards and the advice sector.

Cathcart studied law at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, before qualifying as a trading standards officer and working for several Scottish local authorities.

He also has a Masters degree in mediation and conflict resolution and has taught a range of consumer protection, business and dispute resolution subjects at Glasgow Caledonian, Queen Margaret, and Strathclyde universities.

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.

Cathcart replaces former headteacher Carole Ford, who has been convener since the committee was established in June 2011.

Alison Atack, president of the Law Society of Scotland, 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.”

Cathcart said: “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.”

In her review of the regulation of legal services published in October, Esther Roberton recommended that responsibility for regulation of the legal profession be taken away from the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates and instead be handed to a single public body that would regulate the entire sector and handle complaints, a change the Law Society of Scotland is opposed to.

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