In July the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) worked with YouGov to poll the public on various issues around legal regulation. The results are being announced before a major conference tomorrow looking at the future of regulation in Scotland, and are based on a poll of the Scottish public (excluding those who worked in the legal industry).
- Only 19% of the public felt that it was acceptable for an organisation to both represent lawyers and regulate them.
- Only 21% were confident a body with both functions could deal with complaints about lawyers fairly.
- 83% felt the regulator should be subject to Freedom of Information legislation, used as a proxy to start assessing the public’s view of accountability and transparency.
The work was commissioned following the publication of an independent review of legal regulation, which noted the worrying lack of consumer input and evidence within the current regulatory model, and proposed a move to independent regulation.
Commenting on the findings, Neil Stevenson, Chief Executive of the SLCC, said “When we commissioned the poll we were expecting the Scottish Government would be consulting on the proposals in the autumn, and we wanted to ensure our submission was evidence based. Whilst we had access to data from others on the views of the profession, no one had ever polled the public on these issues to ask what they looked for in good regulation, so the SLCC had no evidence on which to form a position. We wanted to make sure we understood the public perspective when we responded.”
“The fact research like this has not been done before perhaps emphasises the need for a move from the self-regulatory model where lawyers are regularly consulted and allowed to vote on many issues, but the public’s interest is often forgotten, with no major research in the last couple of decades. ”
“What we found was perhaps not surprising, public views preferred the types of model most other regulated sectors have moved to over the last quarter of century. This is consistent with the recommendations of the independent review.”
“We understand further consultation on the review outcomes is now being scheduled for next year. This poll is just a snapshot. The consultation must ensure meaningful, substantive and properly resourced engagement with the public as part of the process. This would be consistent with the Scottish commitment to using ‘service design’ approaches, in which users of services are actively engaged from the start in deciding how that service should work.”
“There is, of course, huge expertise and experience the profession can share on new approaches, and we encourage that input. However, there must also be an evidence base as to what the ‘public interest’ in regulation is. It is often said justice must be done, and be seen to be done. In the same way we must ensure not just that we say the public interest has been considered, but can show how the public’s views are both gathered and used to inform the system.”
- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,003 adults, of which 940 had never worked in the legal industry. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 11th July 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).