Law Society of Scotland and Information Commissioner’s Office collaboration on legal tech

A collaboration between the Law Society of Scotland and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is set to provide a boost to the legal tech sector in Scotland, through assistance in developing technology-based solutions to GDPR issues.

The Law Society of Scotland has signed a memorandum of understanding with the ICO which allows it to act as a gateway to the ICO’s innovation hub in Cheshire, which is working in partnership with technology innovators on ‘Data Protection by design’. The project aims to help companies engineer technology designed to ensure GDPR compliance from the outset and provides bespoke guidance from the ICO.

Paul Mosson, Law Society of Scotland Executive Director of Member Services and Engagement, said: “This is a very positive step for us. The shared aims of the MOU will enable closer working between the Law Society, our members and the ICO, allowing us to take a more collaborative approach and exchange information to support our growing legal tech community.”

To read more click here.

Legal services reform in Scotland – regulation, international competitiveness and seizing opportunities for innovation

Edinburgh,  Wednesday, 25th March 2020

This conference will discuss the next steps for legal services in Scotland.

Delegates will examine:

  • Major proposals for regulatory reform;
  • The sector’s international competitiveness going forward; and
  • The impact of innovation in legal technology.

The conference includes a ministerial contribution – and will be an opportunity to discuss the issues as The Scottish Government consults on the future of legal services regulation following its response to the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland, also known as the Roberton Review.

We also expect discussion on the CMA research which is currently being undertaken, and anticipated to be published soon, to support The Scottish Government in its final response to the review.

With the review recommending the creation of a single independent regulator for all providers of legal services, accountable to The Scottish Parliament, stakeholders and policymakers will assess the next steps for government and what any decision will mean for the sector, its customers and partners.

Read more and register

Law Society of Scotland releases guidance to improve price transparency

The Law Society of Scotland has published guidance on pricing for solicitors, aimed to improve consumer understanding of the cost of legal services. The guidance encourages firms to publish indicative pricing up-front, allowing consumers to gain a broad overview of price comparison before they contact a solicitor. The guidance will come into effect on 1 April 2020 and will not apply to practitioners solely engaged in legal aid work, or firms that exclusively provide services to businesses.

Craig Cathcart, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland Regulatory Committee, said: “The guidance has been developed to improve price transparency for legal services and encourage solicitors to proactively publish information to help consumers in Scotland make better-informed choices. Whether someone is thinking of buying a new home, wants to make a will or set up a power of attorney, or they may have separated from a partner or have an employment problem, we hope members of the public will be able to get a better idea of the typical costs involved in such cases early on. As well as increasing clarity for consumers, this can help improve access to justice.”

The guidance will take into account the difficulty in creating a ‘one size fits all’ approach and will give firms the option to publish average or typical costs for cases or alternatively fixed fees for specific services such as residential property sales or certain types of divorce proceedings.

Further commentary from the Law Society is available here.

The full guidance is available here.

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UK Competition and Markets Authority to research Scottish legal services market

The Competition and Markets Authority has issued the following press release regarding its impending research into certain aspects of the Scottish legal services market to support the Scottish Government’s response to the Roberton Review.


The following release was published 17 June 2019.

This work has been prompted by the Roberton Review, an Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland, and will provide evidence to assist the Scottish Government in determining how to take forward the recommendations made by that report. Led by Esther Roberton, that Review made a number of recommendations, including that there should be a single independent body to regulate the legal profession, set standards and handle complaints.

Building on work already done as part of the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) market study into the supply of legal services in England and Wales, this work will examine whether there is evidence of a lack of competition among legal services providers in Scotland, as was the case in England and Wales.

The research will also focus on:

  • the benefits of independent regulation of legal services in Scotland and whether the current institutional arrangement – where the bodies regulating the professions are also those representing and lobbying for them – dampens competition
  • the impact of the current legal services regulatory framework in Scotland on competition, particularly on innovation and the entry of new business models to the market

It is the CMA’s first Scotland-specific project since the expansion of its Edinburgh office last year to help the organisation better identify and resolve issues that harm Scottish consumers.

The CMA has today also published a document setting out its views on the Roberton Review’s recommendations. The CMA welcomes the review, which has sparked a debate about how to ensure the regulation of Scottish legal service providers delivers value for money and choice for consumers, as well as benefitting businesses and the economy.

The CMA intends to publish its findings in early 2020. More information can be found through the CMA here.

Notes to editors

  1. The Independent Review of the Regulation of Legal Services, led by Esther Roberton, was invited by the Scottish Government to review the regulation of legal services in Scotland. It reported in October 2018

The Law Society of Scotland proposes reforms to legal services regulation

The Law Society of Scotland has called for wide-ranging reforms that will allow it to keep pace with global developments within the sector and improve consumer protection. It has set out a series of recommendations in its submission to an independent review of legal services regulation which include expanding consumer protections to currently unregulated areas of legal services, regulating firms operating beyond Scotland and overhauling the legal complaints system, which it says is overly complex, expensive and lacks proper oversight.

The recommendations also include:

  • expanding consumer protections to currently unregulated areas of legal services
  • better regulation of legal firms as entities in addition to the regulation of individual solicitors to better protect consumers
  • new powers to suspend solicitors suspected of serious wrongdoing
  • widening the Law Society’s membership to improve standards amongst other legal professionals
  • protection of the term ‘lawyer’ to mean those who are legally trained and are regulated
  • The repeal of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 and those parts of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007 which relate to the regulation of legal services and for the introduction of new enabling and permissible legislation for the regulation of legal services in Scotland and the Scottish solicitor profession, with the flexibility to move with the times and which allows for proactive regulation to ensure consumer protections remain robust.
  • Amending those sections of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 which relate to the regulation of legal services and the Scottish solicitor profession to address the difficulties in interpretation and application.
  • A new regulatory framework allowing for the flexibility for the Society to seek approval from the Legal Services Board to be an authorised regulator for those multi-national practices operating in Scotland.
  • That any new regulatory framework makes provision for the regulation of legal services provided remotely by artificial intelligence.
  • Retaining an independent professional body for the regulation and professional support of the Scottish solicitor profession.
  • Retaining a separate and independent discipline tribunal for decisions in serious cases of professional misconduct.
  • That all legal service providers providing services direct to the consumer be regulated, strengthening consumer protections and enhancing consumer confidence in the Scottish legal sector.
  • That the term ‘lawyer’ be a protected term, in the same way as solicitor, and only those able to demonstrate recognised legal qualifications, and who are regulated, are permitted to use the term.
  • That primary legislation provides the permissible powers for the Law Society of Scotland to extend entity regulation to those firms wholly owned by solicitors.
  • That a new system for dealing with complaints about legal services and solicitors is introduced, recognising the paramount aim to protect consumers whilst allowing the Society to continue to deal with the professional discipline of its members, and adopting relevant processes to make the system speedy, effective and efficient whilst recognising the differences between consumer redress and professional discipline.
  • That primary legislation provides for the permissible power for the Law Society of Scotland to open up membership to non-solicitors.

Read the full submission – The Case for Change: Revisited

Attitudes to dishonesty by health and care professionals

This research looks at public and professional attitudes towards dishonest behaviour by health and care professionals. The researchers used qualitative methods to explore responses to a number of scenarios based on real-life cases of professional dishonesty.

The research was commissioned by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees the work of nine statutory healthcare regulators UK, and conducted by independent research agency Policis.

Broadly, the report finds that healthcare professionals and the public share a common moral framework and a shared understanding of what constitutes aggravating and mitigating factors.

Read report on PSA website

Read copy of report on ICLR.net

80% of major jurisdictions use central qualifying assessment

In an international benchmarking exercise, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in England and Wales finds that almost 80% of the jurisdictions surveyed have a common assessment as part of lawyer qualification.

Press release on SRA website

Report on SRA website