The SLCC welcomes today’s response by the Scottish Government to the Roberton review of the regulation of legal services published last year.
Chief Executive Neil Stevenson commented, “Three years ago the SLCC published a vision for reform based on the ‘better regulation agenda’. We are delighted to see a clear commitment from the Scottish Government to consider new legislation to ensure a system which is more proportionate, consistent, accountable transparent and targeted.”
“We are also pleased there is consensus on the need for reform of the complaints, for which we have long argued. As mentioned in the Scottish Government’s response, we are in positive discussions on interim arrangements, but still believe that there’s a need for new primary legislation. Issues such as the current disproportionate and unusual statutory appeal arrangements or the need for a £20 dispute to still go all the way to a panel of three independent commissioners will need longer terms solutions.”
“The Scottish Government response notes that views are polarised on the key recommendations. In particular, the profession has tended to make the case against a move to independent regulation of the legal profession, suggesting regulation should continue to be led by a body which is also the representative association, or trade body, for lawyers.
We would note that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last week supported the case for change in this area, announcing two research projects to examine "the benefits of independent regulation of legal services in Scotland and whether the current institutional arrangement - where the bodies regulating the professions are also those representing and lobbying for them - dampens competition" and "the impact of the current legal services regulatory framework in Scotland on competition, particularly on innovation and the entry of new business models to the market".
“The major institutional voices, and the key stakeholders named in the response, have significant knowledge and expertise to share. However, we’d also call on the Scottish Government to ensure the consultation approach works to actively engage consumers and small businesses to share their views. The lack of consumer data on legal services has been citied in all reviews in the last 20 years, and this is a tremendous opportunity to work to remedy that situation.”
“We look forward to responding to the consultation in due course”.