The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement today, Tuesday, 25 April, of an independent review of legal services, saying that current legislation governing the legal sector is no longer fit for purpose.
Law Society of Scotland president, Eilidh Wiseman said: “There have been huge changes in the legal market over recent years. Changing consumer demands and new business structures are transforming the way legal services are being provided.
“This is why we have argued so strongly for reforms to the patchwork of legislation which covers the regulation of legal services in Scotland. The main Act of Parliament governing solicitors is more than 35 years old and simply no longer fit for purpose. We know the processes for legal complaints are slow, cumbersome, expensive and failing to deliver for solicitors or clients. There are gaps in consumer protection, contradictions and loop holes in the law. This is why change is so desperately needed to allow the legal sector to thrive and ensure robust protections are in place for consumers.
“The Scottish Government’s independent review offers the chance to build a consensus on how reforms should be taken forward. It is vital for the work of the group to move as quickly as possible so new legislation can be introduced before the Scottish Parliament.”
The Law Society has highlighted its concerns about areas of legal services which remain unregulated in Scotland.
Wiseman said: “One area we will highlight to the review group is the growing level of unregulated legal services where consumers are at risk if something goes wrong. Many people are unaware that some types of legal services are not regulated – for example, receiving employment advice from a non-solicitor. They may have little or no course of redress if something goes wrong. Consumers deserve the same level of protection whether they choose to go to a solicitor, and are therefore covered by Law Society client protections, or to use another legal services provider.
Two former Law Society presidents, Christine McLintock and Alistair Morris, will serve on the legal services review panel.
Wiseman said: “I am particularly delighted that Christine McLintock and Alistair Morris will be part of the review group. With their considerable board-level expertise alongside their combined insight and knowledge of the legal sector, they will prove invaluable to the review process. They understand the need for reform and, having both served on regulatory sub-committees, bring a deep commitment to the public interest.”
Christine McLintock, as former general counsel for Pinsent Masons, was responsible for the firm’s in-house legal service, professional risk management and compliance. Christine joined the Law Society’s Council in 2005 and has served on the Society’s Board since its inception in 2009. Prior to that, she was a member of the Strategy and Governance Group and was Convener of the Education and Training Committee, before to serving as President in 2015-16. She is currently part of the team working on the regulation of licensed legal services providers and is Convener of the Law Society’s Public Policy Committee.
Alistair Morris was appointed CEO of Pagan Osborne in 2005, having built extensive expertise in private client work at the firm. He was elected to join the Law Society Council in 1992, becoming one of its longest serving members at 24 years. Alistair also served as a board member between 2009 and 2016, and was Convener of the Guarantee Fund Sub-committee (now Client Protection Fund Sub-committee) prior to his election as President in 2014. Alistair currently sits on the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland.
The Scottish Government announcement about the Review of Regulation of Legal Services is available to read on its website.