Thursday, August 02, 2007

Justice Secretary MacAskill tells Scotland : "You don't deserve same access to legal services as rest of the UK"

Douglas Mill on BBC News suspiciously welcomes in the OFT recommentations to open up the legal services market - the public are fooled, but we know the Law Society is planning to keep control of standards of admittance into the legal profession so nothing will really change.

Don't know these days whether the SNP or the Conservatives are running Scotland after the latest round of reports on the OFT recommendations for opening the legal services market in Scotland.

Imagine that - all those SNP voters voting for change in Scotland and getting the Tories running the show, as Bill Aitken, the rather odd choice for Justice Committee Convener hounds the Justice Secretary to resist any opening up of the legal services market in Scotland.

It seems the Cabinet Secretary for Justice is already thinking along the lines of Bill Aitken, with reports in the Scotsman newspaper of Mr MacAskill seeking a "Scottish solution" to a national problem. Surely that can only mean doom, given the lack of any credibility the legal profession has to reform itself ?

Suggestions abound the OFT should come in and fine the Law Society for market manipulation - which, although it probably won't happen, might be a good wake up call to those who are happy for the legal profession in Scotland to follow the Titanic on a one way cruise to disaster.

Peter Cherbi's piece over at "A Diary of Injustice in Scotland" tells it far better than we ever could - Justice Secretary seeks Scottish solution for legal reform as Tories urge lawyers should get their own way

MacAskill seeks Scots solution to law reform


MINISTERS insisted yesterday they would not be pushed into introducing full competition into Scotland's law services, despite a call by the UK's competition watchdog to lift restrictions.

The Office of Fair Trading has recommended current rules on how legal services are provided be reformed to open up the profession to competition from new providers, including high-street banks and supermarkets.

Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, has three months to formally reply to the OFT but yesterday his spokesman said that, while the minister accepted the current situation could not continue, he would not just follow the OFT's decision.

Instead, Mr MacAskill wants to work out a solution with the profession in Scotland, not have a decision imposed on him.

Law services in England are being deregulated and the OFT believes Scotland should go the same way.

But the Executive spokesman said Mr MacAskill did not believe it was right just to follow the English example; instead, he wanted a "Scottish solution".

The spokesman said: "The Justice Secretary has already made clear that the status quo is not an option. However, he is equally insistent that he does not see any point in the profession blindly following the approach of the profession south of the border.

"We are looking for the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society to help design distinctively Scottish solutions."

Douglas Mill, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, also took a cautious approach, saying he wanted to develop an intrinsically Scottish solution.

Mr Mill said: "The Society wants to see Scotland's legal profession thrive in today's global market. What we must ensure, though, is that Scotland seeks its own solutions and that access to justice and protection of the public remain core."

Colin Gray, managing partner of McGrigors LLP, one of the country's biggest law firms, welcomed the OFT's ruling, claiming that, if implemented by the Executive, it would allow ambitious firms to grow.

"Such liberalisation will enable providers of legal services to gain access to more capital, attract and retain talent and develop new service lines," he said.

But Bill Aitken, the Conservatives' justice spokesman, warned that the changes might result in big businesses "muscling in" and squeezing out smaller firms.

"These measures will cost more, reduce rather than increase choice and result in a loss of legal expertise," he said.

And he added: "I urge the new Scottish government to resist these plans."


yellowkenny said...


The MacAskill way is the wrong way but faster :) couldn't have put it better myself

can we call him yellowkenny ?

Anonymous said...

Scotland voted in the SNP and got the Tories instead.

I hope that's a lesson to you idiots north of the border.