MICHAEL Clancy, director of law reform at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We’re very pleased that the Scottish Government has taken on board the representations made by the Society and others about the regulation of will writers.
“We firmly believe that non-lawyer will writers who provide a service for a fee should be regulated to ensure that members of the public are protected and can be sure that they are getting good advice at a reasonable cost.
“In our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Will writers earlier this year, as part of its work on the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, we wrote: ‘Wills are important documents which ensure that the testator’s wishes are complied with in terms of the disposal of his or her property after death. Wills not only involve the law of succession but also impact on the law of trusts, charities and tax law as well as the general law of property. Wills should not be approached as being unimportant or peripheral documents.
“‘Non-lawyer Will writers should meet certain standards of education and training to be able to successfully draw up a Will on behalf of a client. They should be subject to proper regulation by a professional or other body and comply with statutory requirements as to training, professional indemnity, fidelity cover or the provision of a compensation fund in respect of dishonesty and a legally enforceable complaints system.
“’The Law Society of Scotland agrees with the proposal to introduce a regulatory framework similar to that which is proposed for confirmation agents in Part 3 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill.’”
The proposals to regulate Will writers are among amendments to the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill which is set to change how legal services are provided in Scotland and would permit solicitors to enter into partnership with non-lawyers and seek external capital. Currently, only solicitors can own and run law firms in Scotland.
The Law Society’s annual general meeting on Thursday, 27 May, backed allowing alternative business structures for law firms (ABS) but with majority solicitor and regulated professional ownership of at least 51 per cent. A motion against all forms of ABS was defeated, however the Society’s Council has informed the government that views within the profession are polarised, particularly regarding external ownership of law firms.
2 June 2010.
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