GLC's briefing paper on the Stage 1 debate of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill (Wednesday 28 April 2010):
We believe the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill is unable to deliver its stated policy aim of promoting legal services competition and, as drafted, is presently not fit for purpose. For the reasons set forth in this briefing, the Bill is highly likely to lead to serious detriment to Scottish consumers, the Scottish public and their legal system, and the independence of Scotland’s legal profession.
We believe the ‘external ownership’ principle in the Bill is conceptually flawed and unworkable, but may be able to be cured by substantial amendment. We would propose amending the Bill to replace ‘external ownership’ with a new form of licensed business practice which balanced the need to promote competition and innovation, with consumer protection and the Scottish public interest.
Our proposed principle of ‘co-ownership’ would comprise of non-legally qualified persons owning up to 25% of a licensed business practice, but working alongside qualified solicitors, with direct operational input to the business. This model would build upon a safe and robust, tried and tested regulatory system, while facilitating innovative new business arrangements and partnerships.
The full paper is available in PDF format here.