Consumer Focus Scotland has welcomed the long awaited approval of the Association of Commercial Attorneys application under the terms of Section 25-29 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990, for rights of audience in the Scottish Courts.
Despite the cheer, and much needed addition of the Association of Commercial Attorneys to the access to justice debate, their practising certificate remains heavily restricted to construction law only .. at the insistence of legal establishment insiders, apparently worried their grip over Scotland’s monopolistic legal services market is slipping. (and about time too – Ed)
Consumer Focus Scotland’s Press Release :
Consumer watchdog says group’s new right of audience helps open up Scottish courts
A significant step in opening up Scotland’s court system to competition will be taken today with the granting of rights of audience in certain cases in the sheriff courts to a new group of legal specialists who are neither solicitors nor advocates.
Scotland’s foremost consumer watchdog, Consumer Focus Scotland, is welcoming the decision to give the Association of Commercial Attorneys the right to bring cases to the civil courts.
Principal Policy Advocate with Consumer Focus Scotland, Sarah O’Neill, says people who need to turn to the courts will benefit if they’re able to be represented by professionals who are right for their particular case:
“The costs of legal advice and representation should never be a barrier to access to justice. Consumers who become involved in legal disputes need to have access to affordable and accessible legal services. By allowing new professional groups to represent their clients in the courts we are introducing greater competition, and if specialists can take cases to court themselves, rather than having to instruct a solicitor or advocate, clients benefit from a more efficient and less costly route to justice.”
The Association of Commercial Attorneys had its application for rights of audience in construction and building law cases under sections 25-29 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 accepted by the Lord President last month. From today the group will be the first to be allowed to break the monopoly of solicitors, advocates and, more recently solicitor-advocates.
Sarah O’Neill says it has been a long time coming:
“While not supporting any particular application, we have long argued that opening up the legal services market to greater competition meant greater choice and a reduction in the cost of legal representation. The legislation which was meant to open up this market lay on a shelf for sixteen years before the measure was finally incorporated into the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act in 2006.
“Our hope is that the granting of Rights of Audience to the Association of Commercial Attorneys from today will encourage others to follow.”
The Association of Commercial Attorneys was granted Rights of audience in relation to construction and building law cases under the Act of Sederunt (Fees of Members of the Association of Commercial Attorneys in the Sheriff Court) 2009, which comes into force today (20th May 2009).
Sections 25-29 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 were commenced in March 2007. They set out arrangements by which rights to conduct litigation and rights of audience can be granted in Scotland to members of a professional or other body i.e. to bodies whose members are not necessarily legally qualified. Those wishing to be granted such rights have to apply to the Lord President of the Court of Session and Scottish Ministers.).