Legal services regulation reform: consultation

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.

Part 5: Competition and Markets Authority Legal Services in Scotland Research report

In response to the recommendation of the Roberton report that: "The Scottish Government should require the Competition and Markets Authority to revisit the report it undertook on the legal services sector in England and Wales in 2016 and test the relevance of its findings for the Scottish legal services sector" in June 2019, the Competition and Markets Authority announced that it would undertake research into certain aspects of the Scottish legal services market to support the Scottish Government's response to the Roberton review.

The CMA published it's Legal Services in Scotland Research report[57] in March 2020. The CMA report makes 11 recommendations aimed at the Scottish Government, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, and the Lord President.

The CMA research is focused on competition in consumer-facing legal services and considered:

  • whether there is evidence of a lack of competition in the sector, based on observed levels of price dispersion and transparency of price and quality (recommendations to improve the information available to consumers);
  • the impact of regulation on competition in the sector, particularly in relation to innovation and entry (recommendations to reduce the impact of regulation on competition); and
  • the merits of the recommendation of the Roberton review for a new regulatory framework in Scotland that is fully independent of the profession (wider regulatory reform).

The CMA echo the Roberton report setting out that the characteristics of legal services, including their complexity, mean that consumers face challenges in identifying their legal needs and judging the quality of service being offered. Consumers typically search out legal services infrequently and often in circumstances where they are under time pressure or in distress. As a result, consumers are reliant on clear, timely information about price and quality of providers in order to exercise genuine choice.

The Scottish Government is currently considering the recommendations made by the CMA research report. Whilst not all of the CMA recommendations are for the Scottish Government to address, we will respond to the CMA recommendations in our response to this consultation as views are sought on many of those recommendations within this consultation paper.



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