An independent review of the regulation of legal services was announced by the Minister of Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing on 25 April 2017.
The review has been established by the Scottish Government with the aim to fulfil its manifesto commitment to “take forward a consultation to review the regulation of the legal profession in Scotland and to support a modern and effective legal sector, including new forms of business model.”
The purpose of the review will be to make independent recommendations to reform and modernise the framework for the regulation of legal services and complaints handling. The review is intended to ensure a proportionate approach to regulation that supports growth in the legal services sector. It should also place consumer interests firmly at the heart of any system of regulation, including the competitive provision of legal services. The review will focus on the current regulatory framework, the complaints and redress process for providers of legal services including solicitors and advocates, and ongoing market issues such as investigating the benefits of regulating firms as well as individual solicitors.
The independent Chair, Esther Roberton, current chair of NHS 24, will lead the review and it is intended that it reports to Ministers within 15 months. The outputs are expected to inform future reforms of the regulatory system for legal services.
Since the review began on 25 April 2017, the Chair has met with numerous stakeholders now numbering over 100 people across meetings and stakeholder events as well as launching an open call for evidence. The main stakeholder events have been in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen with invitations to groups from the surrounding areas. Those groups representing consumer interests in the legal sector have been engaged, as have key organisations within the justice system and many members of the legal profession including advocates, solicitors, solicitor advocates and others. This includes interactions with large, medium-sized and small solicitor firms. Firms with innovative activities have been included in stakeholder engagement, as well as many different types of organisations providing legal services, and those involved in regulation in Scotland. The Chair has been keen to engage with the full range of providers of legal services including law centres, CABx bureau and others.
The key stakeholder engagement phase for the Chair and panel has taken place from October 2017- March 2018 concluding with the call for evidence. The Chair has continued to undertake some meetings alongside progressing other work to inform evidence gathering for the report.
A call for evidence ran from 29 January 2018 - 30 March 2018 and is now closed. 52 responses were received - see the link in the left hand side sidebar. A few of the responses were anonymous and confidential so do not appear online. Others that were anonymous but not confidential appear online. One response was redacted altogether and several responses were partially redacted. Where redacting has taken place, all respondents can be assured that their responses went forward to the review fully unredacted. Consultation responses numbers 38, 40,41 and 43 were campaign signatures submitted by Greg Flett, Lizzy Enayati, Laura Tainish and Louise Jones of Davidson Chalmers LLP in support of the Law Society of Scotland’s campaign pledge, "I fully support and endorse the submissions made by the Law Society of Scotland in its paper “The Case for Change: Revisited” dated January 2018 as submitted to the Scottish Government."