Legal services: alternative business structures

We are working towards the introduction of alternative business structures in the legal services market, to help improve customer choice and widen access to justice.

The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 allows solicitors to enter business relationships with non-solicitors to provide legal services to the public for a fee, under a licence issued by an approved regulator. 

Also known as licensed legal services providers, ABS must be 51% owned by lawyers or other regulated professionals. 

Clients will be able to expect the same standards of service, advice and consumer protection as existing solicitor practices.

Regulatory framework

There will be a new regulatory framework for licensed legal service providers.

Service providers will be licensed and regulated by a regulator approved by Scottish Ministers.

There is a two-step process for becoming an approved regulator. If granted authorisation, an approved regulator must make and implement a regulatory scheme for its licensed legal service providers.

Register of approved regulators

Section 82 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 requires Scottish Ministers to keep and publish a register of approved regulators. The register is to include the following information in relation to each approved regulator. Currently there is only one approved regulator.

The Law Society of Scotland
Address: Atria One, 144 Morrison St, Edinburgh, EH3 8EX
Telephone: 0131 226 7411

Approved by Scottish Ministers under section 7 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 on 17 January 2017

Authorised by Scottish Ministers to exercise its regulatory functions as an approved regulator of licensed legal services providers, under section 10 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 on 22 December 2021.

Approved regulators: complaints handling

We carried out a targeted stakeholder consultation between June and August 2018, with the purpose of creating a regulatory framework for handling complaints against approved regulators of licensed legal service providers.

A partial business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA) has been completed with a purpose to establish a framework for the investigation of a complaint about an approved regulator of licensed legal services providers. 

The Licensed Legal Services (Complaints About Approved Regulators) (Scotland) Regulations 2018 make further provision setting out the statutory requirements for:   

  • investigation of multiple complaints against an approved regulator
  • interim report arrangements  
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