Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland - Fit for the Future

Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland

A series of posts on Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland arising from the Independent Review by Esther A Roberton.

Review Launch

The Scottish Government launched the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland on 25 April 2017. Significantly, 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.

Review Recommendations

Full details of the Review recommendations can be found in the Report [PDF] 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. In particular the proposed single regulator’s remit will include entry, standards and monitoring, and complaints and redress.

Scottish Government’s Response

Thereafter, the Scottish Government’s Response to the Roberton Review [PDF] was issued in June 2019 with the next steps being stated as being a public consultation to seek to build consensus on the way forward with regard to the future of the legal services regulatory framework for Scotland. In essence the purpose being to use that to develop primary legislation for introduction to the Scottish Parliament.

Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland Consultation Analysis

After that consultation in 2021 the Scottish Government published, in July 2022, its Consultation Analysis [PDF] on Legal Services Regulation Reform in Scotland.

A Planned Bill

The Scottish Government announced on 6 September 2022 that it will introduce a Reform Bill in the 2022 to 2023 parliamentary year. This bill:-

will provide for a modern regulatory framework designed to promote competition and innovation while also improving the transparency and accountability of legal services regulation and the legal complaints system in Scotland.

Response to the Consultation Analysis

The Scottish Government published, on 22 December 2022, their response to the findings of the consultation analysis report [PDF].

The Bill as Introduced

On 20 April 2023 the Scottish Government introduced the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament.

On being ambitious in regulatory change

On being ambitious in regulatory change’ was a talk that I gave at the conference on ‘The Scottish Legal Services Regulation Reform Bill: what’s needed and what’s next?’ (Organised by Mackay Hannah) on 27 April 2023.

Call for Views on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill

A call for views on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill was made by the Scottish Parliament on 31 May 2023 with submissions required by 9 August 2023.

I submitted my views to them on 30 July 2023.

Some unusual views have been expressed by Michael Sheridan: Law Firms are not Public Assets

Professor David Flint’s has given his response to the call for evidence on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill

Professor Stephen Mayson in his response suggests that “the case for a Single Regulator is stronger in Scotland”

ABS in Scotland by the end of 2023?

On 10 August 2023 the Law Society of Scotland indicated that we might see ABS (Alternative Business Structures) in Scotland by the end of the year.

New Zealand Law Society accept proposed Independent Regulator

On 24 August 2023 the New Zealand Law Society accepted in principle the recommendation of the Paterson Review for an independent regulator of legal services in New Zealand. This is in stark contrast to the position of the Law Society of Scotland in relation to the Robertson Review.

Blog Posts

On this blog I have looked at the Roberton Review, the subsequent Consultation Analysis, the planned introduction of a Bill, the Scottish Government’s response to the Consultation Analysis and the Bill as introduced.

So far there have been twenty-two posts:-

I will continue to blog on this topic as the Bill progresses through the Scottish Parliamentary process.