Reform of legal services regulation

Modernisation plans centred on the public interest.

Plans to protect the use of the professional term ‘lawyer’ have been unveiled as part of proposals to reform the regulation of Scotland’s legal services sector.

The move would see the legal role given greater protection in law to prevent unqualified people and those who have been struck off from using it.

A formal consultation response published today underpins the Scottish Government’s commitment to reforming legal services and to retaining the sector’s independence within a system that provides greater flexibility in how complaints are handled – to benefit both consumers and legal professionals.

The response also sets out how the existing regulatory framework for legal services should be modernised to provide users with increased confidence, support growth in the sector and strengthen consumer protections.

Publication of the position follows extensive stakeholder engagement with legal professionals and will inform legislation to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Community Safety Minister Elena Whitham said:

“While Scotland has one of the best legal professions in the world, improvements to the regulatory structure are needed to further support access to justice.

“The Scottish Government wants a modern, forward-looking regulatory framework that will promote competition, innovation and public and consumer interests in an efficient, effective and independent legal sector.

“Measures that instil greater consumer confidence, such as preventing people struck off from referring to themselves as lawyers will give consumers and members of the legal profession greater protection.

“The Scottish Government is committed to reform, and will continue to engage with stakeholders representing the consumer and legal perspective taking that forward.”


The report of the independent review of legal services regulation in Scotland (the Roberton Report) made 40 recommendations intended to reform and modernise the existing legal services regulatory framework, to provide a proportionate approach to regulation while supporting growth and competitive provision within the legal services sector, and place consumer interests at its heart.

While many of the recommendations were widely supported, the primary recommendation to establish a single independent regulator for all legal services in Scotland largely polarised the views of stakeholders.

As a result, the Scottish Government made the commitment to undertake a public consultation with the intention of seeking to build consensus on the way forward.

The Scottish Government ran a public consultation between 1 October and 24 December 2021 to seek views on proposals for reform of legal services regulation in Scotland. This engagement has culminated in careful consideration of a wide range of views, set out in the consultation analysis, by Ministers. Key aims underpinning the revised regulatory model include:

  • Retaining the overarching role of the Lord President and the Court of Session, protecting the independence of the legal profession.
  • Extending legal professional title regulation beyond the current position which protects the title ‘Solicitor’, to protect the use of the term ‘Lawyer’ and ‘member of the Faculty of Advocates’. This will aim to provide greater consumer protection and address concerns that unqualified individuals or individuals struck off from the legal profession can currently use such terms to describe themselves. 
  • Allowing the legal complaints system to operate in a more flexible way to benefit consumers and legal professionals. This will aim to address concerns that the legislation underpinning the legal complaints system is too restrictive and unable to act in a proportionate and risk-based way, adding undue cost and time to the process for both consumers and legal professionals.
  • Ensuring there is proportionate, risk-based oversight of all legal services, providing public interest-focused centred safeguards.


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