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Solicitors express grave concerns over Scottish Government's legal regulation plans

Solicitors express grave concerns over Scottish Government's legal regulation plans


Survey reveals over 80% of solicitors alarmed by government's legal sector regulation proposals

In a recent survey conducted by the Law Society of Scotland, solicitors have expressed significant apprehension regarding the Scottish Government's plans to acquire powers for regulating the legal sector. The annual members' survey, carried out between December 2023 and January 2024, disclosed that more than 80% of the respondents were deeply concerned about the proposed ministerial powers outlined in the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill.

In response to the widespread outcry from solicitors, advocates, the judiciary, MSPs, and other stakeholders, the Scottish Government has signalled its intention to introduce amendments to address these concerns.

The survey, which involved nearly 1,300 solicitors and trainee solicitors, also sought opinions on various legal issues such as human rights, regulation, and legal aid. A significant majority (86%) called for the Law Society to prioritise promoting human rights and the rule of law.

Solicitors remain pessimistic about the sustainability of Scotland's legal aid system, with less than 5% believing that criminal legal aid is viable. Over 45% of respondents had sought assistance from the Law Society in the past year, and approximately 80% found their professional body easy to contact and were satisfied with the experience.

Sheila Webster, President of the Law Society of Scotland, emphasised the gravity of solicitors' concerns, asserting that the Scottish Government's commitment to amending the aspects of the bill related to ministerial intervention is a step in the right direction. Webster highlighted the survey's indication that solicitors recognise the critical importance of preserving the profession's independence to uphold the rule of law and fulfil regulatory obligations for the protection of both the profession and the public.

The survey results reflect an engaged and forward-looking legal profession, with a clear emphasis on public interest issues, including the safeguarding of human rights and the establishment of a sustainable legal aid system.