THE Law Society of Scotland has supported criteria laid out by the Scottish Government for assessing which professions will be permitted to set up law firms with solicitors in Scotland.
Says a spokesperson: “The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 removes the current restrictions on how solicitors can organise their businesses, and will allow solicitors to form partnerships with non-solicitors, and to seek investment from outside the profession with others from defined regulated professions.
“The Society has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation paper which sets out two criteria for assessing the suitability of professional bodies. Firstly, that the regulated profession is subject to a robust system of regulation including a code of conduct, entry requirements and disciplinary procedures and secondly, that the members of the professional group would be reasonably likely to enter into a business arrangement with solicitors and therefore take advantage of the new business structure.”
Cameron Ritchie, vice-president of the Society, and convener of the working group that considered this consultation, said: “It is essential to maintain public confidence in those providing legal advice and services in Scotland and robust regulation is crucial in achieving this.
“This is an important consultation and a key stage in the implementation of the 2010 legislation. We agree with the criteria the Scottish Government has proposed for assessing the suitably of those professions which can work in partnership with solicitors to form licensed legal services providers.”
Added the spokesperson: “In its response, the Society agreed that members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and accountants regulated by the other professional bodies named in the consultation paper should be included in the definition. It also believes that members of the Association of Commercial Attorneys should be included and has proposed that other professional bodies, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors should also be considered.
“The Society has reserved opinion on confirmation agents and non-solicitor will writers being included in the definition.”
Ritchie said: “The provisions of the Act applying to confirmation agents and non-solicitor will writers are not yet in force and accordingly no decision can be taken regarding them at this time. We believe these groups should only be considered at the point where the regulatory schemes are fully operational and it can be established that the legal criteria for will writers and confirmation agents have been met. This is vital to ensure the public are protected.”
Ends 6 May 2011
Notes to editors
The Society’s working party which considered this consultation is called: The Working Party on the Regulatory Model for Licensed Providers.
In forming its response to this consultation, the Society requested comments from its membership and also directly surveyed a key group including Deans of Faculties, members of the Society’s Council and some firms.
The Society listed the following professional bodies in response to question two in the consultation paper, ‘Should any other regulated professions be including the definition?’:
The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Faculty of Advocates
Bar Council (England and Wales)
Bar Council of Ireland
The Executive Council of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
The Royal Institute of British Architects
The response can be viewed on the Society’s website at: http://www.lawscot.org.uk/forthepublic/consultations/2011/legal-services-act-2010
The Scottish Government consultation paper on: Ownership and control of firms providing legal services under the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/02/09105855/0
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