Friday, December 21, 2007

Law Society accused of pulling MacAskill's strings as Justice Secretary vetoes independent regulation

What is it with lawyers in politics, no matter which political party they are in, all they do is dance to the tune of their colleagues in the profession, and once again, Justice Secretary Mr Law Society himself, Kenny MacAskill, misses a chance to heal the deep divisions between the legal profession & client base, by vetoing an independent regulator to oversee the legal system.

Good enough for England & Wales, but seen as too risky for Scotland, given the poor regulatory history of many solicitors and poor quality of Scottish legal services, Mr MacAskill has decided to side with the insurance lobby and deny Scotland the same rights as the rest of the country.

Maintaining a closed legal services model, vetoing independent regulation of the legal system .. Scotland seems to have the wrong person in the justice portfolio ... too busy protecting his own colleagues instead of taking the country's interests into account ...

The Scotsman reports :

Rejection of calls for independent regulator of legal system criticised

CONSUMER groups last night criticised the Scottish Government for not backing calls to appoint an independent regulator to monitor the legal system.

Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, has already made it clear that the status quo is "not an option" for the profession following the Office of Fair Trading's decision to uphold a complaint by consumer group Which? that the current set-up hinders market innovation.

But the minister's official response to a series of OFT recommendations revealed no plans for a new regulatory body like the Legal Services Board in England.

Mr MacAskill said he was "hugely encouraged" by the profession's response to his call for change earlier this year.

At present, lawyers cannot go into partnership with non-lawyers, but the OFT believes consumers would benefit if these "alternative business structures" were overhauled.

Julia Clarke, a campaigner with the Which? group, said: "This is a missed opportunity to put consumers at the heart of reforms to the Scottish legal profession.

"We feel that, unless an independent body is created to regulate lawyers and advocates, consumers will be let down."

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