Legal reform in Scotland is continuing at as slow a pace as possible, as the Law Society of Scotland remind the SNP administration who actually holds the power.
The latest casualty of back door deals and threats is the public’s hope of being able to choose their legal representatives, raather than having the legal profession choose for them. The legislation which was designed to bring about this change, imaginatively titled the “Legal Profession Bill” has now been virtually taken over by the Law Society itself, with SNP approval .. so much the Law Society are congratulating themselves on killing off reforming parts of the bill even before it goes to Parliament !
Here’s the Law Society Press Release … (yuk .. you can just smell the brown envelopes, bungs and threats not to help clients …)
The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed confirmation that there will be a Legal Profession Bill in the Scottish Government’s programme for the 2008/2009 parliamentary session, as announced today, Wednesday, September 3.
The Society hopes there will be provision made in the Bill for the creation of alternative business structures (ABSs), which it believes will improve the competitiveness of the Scottish legal profession and help ensure Scottish solicitors can provide a comprehensive service for their clients.
The Society published its policy paper ‘The Public Interest: Delivering Scottish Legal Services’ on alternative business structures in April this year.
Michael Clancy, director of Law Reform said: “We are very pleased that the Legal Profession Bill is in this year’s legislative programme and look forward to this important measure being introduced in parliament. The Society will continue to work closely with Scottish solicitors, the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to ensure that these reforms will benefit those who require legal services and it will continue promote access to justice as a key issue."
“There is a need to allow change and open up legal services to ensure both that Scottish legal firms continue to flourish in Scotland, the UK and international markets and that their clients are assured of a professional, properly regulated service wherever they choose to get their advice."
Solicitors supported the Society’s proposals to open up how legal services are provided in Scotland at the Law Society of Scotland AGM on 22 May 2008. The introduction of alternative business structures for law firms could see external ownership or capital for law firms, partnerships between solicitors and non-solicitors or other organisations providing legal services.
Richard Henderson, president of the Society, said at the May 2008 AGM: “This is a historic decision. The profession has been asked by the Scottish Government to decide on its future direction and I think that we have risen to that challenge by voting in favour of change.
“There has been a great deal of thought and discussion surrounding alternative business structures. The Society’s council consulted the profession and it was apparent from the responses that there was an appetite for change within the legal profession."
3 SEPTEMBER 2008
Notes to editor
The legal profession as a whole contributes approximately £1.3 billion to the Scottish economy, with around 1.200 legal practices and more than 3,000 in house lawyers working in Scottish business.