History of our proposals and the debate on regulatory reform
In July 2016 we published our original proposals for reform: Reimagine Regulation - SLCC priorities for a consultation on legal services regulation. This set out six key priority areas we believed the government should consult on in delivering their commitment to launch a 'consultation to review legal regulation'. The changes would benefit both consumers and lawyers, by:
- Unravelling the current complex complaints maze
- Reducing statutory detail that focuses on processes, not outcomes for people
- Ensuring that when redress is awarded the client receives it
- Targeting risk, and not seeing all legal services as the same
- Embedding the consumer principles
- Learning from complaints and data to improve future outcomes
We were delighted that our paper was acknowledged by the independent review of the regulation of legal services, which we publicly welcomed when it was established in April 2017.
To assist the first meeting of the review we created a summary of our original documents, updated in light of feedback we had received since publication and new issues which had become visible in the current model.
At the start of 2018 we responded to the review’s call for evidence, submitting a model for reform that summarised and consolidated two years of reflection and engagement since the publication of our original papers. A two page summary sets the agenda for change, with appendices providing a little more detail, in particular on issues that have arisen since our original papers.
We welcomed the review's recommendations when it published its report in October 2018. Scottish Government published its response to the review in June 2019 and we welcomed the continued commitment to reform.
In September 2019 we published the results of a poll of the Scottish public on what they looked for in good regulation. It found that the public preferred the types of model of independent regulation most other regulated sectors have moved to over the last quarter of century, and highlighted public concerns that a body with both regulatory and representative functions could not deal with complaints about lawyers fairly. It also showed significant public support for greater accountability and transparency in the regulatory system.
In March 2020 we welcomed the publication of research carried out by the CMA into legal services in Scotland. The CMA made a number of recommendations to improve the information made available to people to make it easier for them to shop around for legal advice and for regulatory reforms, including that an independent body regulates legal services in Scotland.
In early 2021 Scottish Government consulted on proposals to make improvements to the legal complaints system, within the current legislative framework of the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007. These were designed to deliver shorter term improvements to the way in which complaints are handled, using powers available to Scottish Ministers under section 41 of the 2007 Act.
Following the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, we wrote to all MSPs with information about the SLCC and a guide to assist with constituency casework. We also shared a briefing, Ready for Reform, outlining our proposals for improvements to the regulatory and complaint system.
In late 2021 Scottish Government consulted on three potential models designed to lead to improvements to the transparency and accountability in the way in which legal services are regulated, and the legal complaints system operates in Scotland.
We welcomed and responded to the consultation. The consultation analysis was published in July 2022. Scottish Government published a statement in December 2022 responding to the consultation analysis and outlining a revised regulatory model, which we welcomed.
The Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 20 April 2023. The Bill updates the regulation of legal services in Scotland and provides for a modernised regulatory framework. We welcomed the Bill and committed to working with others to support the Bill’s passage through Parliament and implementing its provisions.