Publication - Consultation paper

Legal services regulation reform: consultation

Published: 1 Oct 2021
From:
Ash Regan MSP
Directorate:
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Law and order
ISBN:
9781802014075

A consultation based on recommendations from an independent review of the regulation of legal services will run until 24 December. It will seek views on options for change designed to lead to improvements to the way legal services are regulated, and the legal complaints system operates in Scotland.

Legal services regulation reform: consultation
Part 1: Strategic Change, Vision and key aspects of the regulatory model

Part 1: Strategic Change, Vision and key aspects of the regulatory model

A. Proposed Regulatory Model principles and objectives

The role of legal services are central to the protection of human rights and freedoms; they play a vital role in upholding the rule of law and providing access to justice.

Legal services also contribute to the social value of Scotland. There is significant diversity in the types of legal services people access where often individuals require such service in times of distress or vulnerability. For example, many will interact with legal services when buying a home, which may be a stressful experience for some. There are also a range of commercial matters supported by legal services, from the small business to the multi-national corporation.

Legal services support individual's wellbeing, promote their continued contribution to society and help to prevent the escalation of problems. Consequently the Scottish Government is of the view that legal services regulation should align and uphold Human Rights (PANEL) principles:

  • Participation: People involved in decisions that affect their rights
  • Accountability: Monitoring of how rights are being affected and remedies for when things go wrong
  • Non-discrimination: People who face the biggest barriers to realising their rights should be prioritised and all forms of discrimination eliminated
  • Empowerment: Everyone should understand their rights and be fully supported to participate and claim their rights
  • Legality: adherence to domestic and international laws

The Roberton report sets out the key principles and objectives that should underpin a new regulatory model for legal services in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has carefully considered the Roberton report and has undertaken discussions with partners on the relevance of existing principles and objectives, such as consumer principles and the regulatory objectives contained in the 2010 Act. This collaborative approach is designed to bring about strategic change and a clear vision for the future regulatory structure.

There is significant read-across and the proposed objectives broaden out the existing principles and objectives that could be applied to the delivery of legal services. This is demonstrated by the following comparison of the principles and objectives set out in the current regulatory structure, to those that we would propose be applied, no matter which regulatory structure is developed as a result of this reform. These are:

  • Protecting and promoting the public interest including the interests of users of legal services

Regulatory Objectives – Protecting and promoting the interests of consumers and the public interest generally

SLCC Consumer panel – access the services you need; free choice of a range of service providers; excellent legal and customer service; treated fairly by your legal services provider;

  • Supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law

Regulatory objectives – supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law, and the interests of justice

  • Promoting independent legal professions and maintaining adherence to the professional principles

Regulatory Objectives – promoting an independent, strong, varied and effective legal profession; promoting and maintaining adherence to professional principles

  • Improving access to justice including choice, accessibility, affordability and understanding of services by service users

Regulatory objectives – promoting access to justice

Consumer panel – access the services you need; free choice of a range of service providers; excellent legal and customer service; treated fairly by your legal services provider; a say in the way that services are received.

  • Embedding a modern culture of prevention, quality assurance and compliance
  • Working collaboratively with consumer, legal professional bodies, and representatives of legal service providers as appropriate.
  • Embedding the better regulation principles throughout its areas of responsibility (and additionally "agility").
  • Promoting innovation, diversity and competition in the provision of legal services

Regulatory objectives – promoting competition in the provision of legal services; encouraging equal opportunities….within the legal profession

Question 1

From the options listed, how important do you think each of the following principles and objectives are for any future regulatory model for legal services in Scotland?

Options

  • 1. Very important
  • 2. somewhat important
  • 3. not important
  • 4. should be removed
  • Protecting and promoting the public interest including the interests of users of legal services

Answer

  • Supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law

Answer

  • Promoting independent legal professions and maintaining adherence to the professional principles

Answer

  • Improving access to justice including choice, accessibility, affordability and understanding of services by service users

Answer

  • Embedding a modern culture of prevention, quality assurance and compliance

Answer

  • Working collaboratively with consumer, legal professional bodies, and representatives of legal service providers as appropriate.

Answer

  • Embedding the better regulation principles throughout its areas of responsibility (additionally; agility, independence, prevention, improvement, cost consideration of cost, and efficiency).

Answer

  • Promoting innovation, diversity and competition in the provision of legal services

Answer

The Robertson report also sets out the following key outcomes to support the framework of a new regulatory model[21]:

  • Enable access to justice including choice and diversity
  • Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice
  • Offer accountability in protecting the public and consumer interest
  • Offer accountability to those regulated by the framework
  • Secure the confidence and trust of the public
  • Enable future growth of legal services

The Scottish Government's view is that the model taken forward should deliver a regulatory framework which provides for:

  • Support and promote sustainable legal services, which benefit consumers
  • agile
  • risk based
  • efficient
  • outcomes based
  • a proactive focus continuous improvement and prevention of failures (which lead to complaints)
  • proportionality
  • an increased focus on independence and accountability

Question 2

From the options listed, how important do you think each of the following are in supporting the framework of any future regulatory model?

Options

  • 1. Very important
  • 2. somewhat important
  • 3. not important
  • 4. should be removed
  • Enable access to justice including choice and diversity

Answer

  • Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice

Answer

  • Offer accountability in protecting the public and consumer interest

Answer

  • Offer accountability to those regulated by the framework

Answer

  • Secure the confidence and trust of the public

Answer

  • Enable future growth of legal services

Answer

Question 3

From the options listed, how important do you think each of the following criteria is in a regulatory framework?

Options

1. Very important

2. Somewhat important

3. Not important

4. Should be removed

  • Support and promote sustainable legal services, which benefit consumers

Answer

  • agile

Answer

  • risk based

Answer

  • efficient

Answer

  • outcomes based

Answer

  • a proactive focus continuous improvement and prevention of failures (which lead to complaints)

Answer

  • proportionality

Answer

  • an increased focus on independence and accountability

Answer


Contact

Email: LegalServicesRegulationReform@gov.scot