Scottish Government launches independent review of regulation of the legal profession in Scotland
Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing - Image credit: Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Government has launched an independent review to look at the regulation of the legal profession in Scotland.
The review, which will be led by NHS 24 chair Esther Roberton, will make recommendations to modernise laws underpinning the profession’s current regulatory system, including how complaints are handled.
This follows concerns that the current legislative framework is outdated and has not kept up with developments in the legal services market.
There are also worries that the current processes for people wishing to make complaints about their solicitor are too slow and too complex.
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The review will consult widely and report to the Scottish Government by the end of 2018.
Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said: “Members of the public must be able to have confidence in the service they get from their solicitor.
“While this happens most of the time, I have been listening carefully to concerns that the current regulatory system in Scotland may leave consumers exposed and does not adequately address complaints.
“This independent review will consider what changes may be needed to the statutory framework for the regulation of legal services to protect consumer interests and promote a flourishing legal sector.
“This includes ensuring that consumers properly understand the options open to them when something goes wrong and that the regulatory framework is proportionate for legal firms.”
Esther Roberton said: “I am delighted to have been asked to undertake this review. Our legal profession and legal services in Scotland are the envy of many around the world.
“We should be just as ambitious for our system of regulation of legal services. I would hope we can simplify the current complaints process to maximise consumers’ confidence in the system.
“I look forward to working with the panel members who bring a broad range of experience across a range of sectors.”
Reform of the framework for the Scottish legal profession was one of five key priorities published by the Law Society of Scotland ahead of last year’s Scottish Parliament election.
It has also raised concerns this week about a 12.5 per cent increase in fees paid to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, and called for reform of the legal complaints process.
As well as Roberton, the independent review panel will include former president of the Law Society of Scotland Christine McLintock, chief executive of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Neil Stevenson, chair of Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal Nicholas Whyte, chair of the Scottish Legal Aid Board Ray Macfarlane and outgoing Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Jim Martin.
The remaining panel members are Dr Dame Denise Coia, chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland; Professor Lorne Crerar, chair of Harper Macleod LLP and Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Professor Russel Griggs, chair of the Scottish Government’s Independent Regulatory Review Group; Alistair Morris of Pagan Osborne representing the Law Society of Scotland; Laura Dunlop QC and Derek Ogg QC representing the Faculty of Advocates; and independent consumer expert Trisha McAuley OBE.