Debate on Legal Services Regulation in Scotland heats up on Twitter in advance of the live event in Glasgow

By | February 7, 2019

Legal Hackers Scotland - Roberton Review (Future Regulation of Legal Services) DebateLegal Hackers Scotland are bringing together all the main players for a unique debate at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow next Wednesday (13 February) on the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland.

Presentations and debate will be provided by a distinguished panel of speakers: Esther Roberton (Chair of the Review); Neil Stevenson (CEO of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission); Christine McLintock (past president of the Law Society of Scotland, who served on the Review advisory panel); Roddy Dunlop QC (Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates); and Professor Donald Nicolson OBE (Director of the Law Clinic, University of Essex).

The Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland was launched by the Scottish Government on 25 April 2017. The stated purpose of the Review was to make independent recommendations to reform and modernise the statutory framework for the regulation of legal services and complaints handling.

Full details of the Review recommendations can be found in the Report which was published in October 2018. Whilst the Report makes 40 recommendations, the primary recommendation is that there should be a single regulator, independent of both government and those it regulates, for all providers of legal services in Scotland. The proposed single regulator’s remit will include entry, standards and monitoring, and complaints and redress. The Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates appear to be against this proposal whereas the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission appear to support it.

This seemed to be borne out on Twitter today when the following exchange took place between Neil Stevenson (CEO of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission) and Roddy Dunlop QC (Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates).

Neil tweeted about the event next week:

Roberton Review on regulation of legal services to be debated at free Glasgow event @scottishlegal https://www.scottishlegal.com/article/roberton-review-on-regulation-of-legal-services-to-be-debated-at-free-glasgow-event @StevensonLaw @LegalHackersSco @Christinemclint @arlenemcdaid @RoddyQC @DonaldJamesNic1 @RFPG2 #ReimagineRegulation

Roddy responded:

Realise this was said with irony. But it raises a central point. The Faculty of Advocates has, for almost 500 years, needed no “champion” other than its Dean, its esprit de corps, and its fundamental independence. We will not cede this lightly.

To which Neil mused:

I suspect the whole panel may be pro independent regulation, but have different definitions of independent. Interesting to see Cilex in England call for the model in Roberton Review to differentiate its offering to public from solicitors and barristers.

Roddy then added:

Spoiler alert (not really): but I am looking forward to hearing how an independent disciplinary panel,chaired by a judge and with a majority of lay persons over practising members of faculty, is anything other than “independent”. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

Neil came back with:

I suspect I’m not going to pass the cross examination at this event, but its lovely 2b on a panel with folk I know are hugely informed & really care about the issues. That hearing is already subject to oversight by SLCC, & in some cases OISC. How different is Roberton?

Roddy was now up for a fight:

Hadn’t realised that SLCC was delighting in its own prospective demise… Roberton is different because, fundamentally, “one size fits all” rarely provides an ideal. The same regulator for licensed conveyancers and solicitors and Advocates is, simply and IMHO only, not ideal.

Neil fought back:

It is a tricky picture for us, but in #ReimagineRegulation we tried 2 step back from the institutions & think about what process & model the profession & the public may want. A little bird just sent me hot off the press UN backing some of these proposals.

That UN backing is interesting indeed and perhaps adds a new dimension to the debate.

If the exchanges between Neil and Roddy on Twitter today are a taster of what’s to come we are in for some lively debate at the RFPG next Wednesday. Maybe the sponsors should be providing popcorn rather than wine on the night 😉

Oh.. and those sponsors include The Time Blawg as media partner. We will provide a full report on the debate on here after the event.

The other sponsors are my law firm, Inksters, and Philip Hannay’s law firm, Cloch.

The three sponsors are meeting the costs involved, ensuring the event is FREE for all to attend, and providing refreshments. The event takes place from 5.30pm on Wednesday 13 February 2019 at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow.

Tickets I am told are moving like hotcakes. If you don’t want to miss out, before the venue reaches capacity, get your free ticket now at the Legal Hackers Scotland eventbrite booking page.

Reactions on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn the following comments have been made:-

Mitch Kowalski (General Counsel and Strategic Advisor on Legal Operations. ICD.D designation in corporate governance):

Man, would I love to go to this! Things heating up for Scottish legal services reform.

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Neil Alan Stevenson (Chief Executive | Non-Executive Director | Charity Vice-chair and trustee):

It should be a really exciting evening. These are big issues, and it’s great to see people seeking out information and wanting to be part of the debate. It looks like the panel should perform its role of prompting discussion well!  But we’ll learn as much from the debate on the floor. What do the public, lawyers, and legal businesses need? Is the status quo perfect? If not, what does change look like? And with the expertise in Legal Hackers, what does.


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