Thursday 1 October 2009

Scottish 'Tesco law' Bill published

The Scottish Government has published its Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, which aims to pave the way for supermarkets, banks and large corporate interests to own and operate Scottish legal firms.

The selling point of this law reform is to create more consumer choice for legal services in Scotland, however, it is equally possible that opening up ownership of previously independent Scottish legal firms, will do exactly the opposite and ultimately restrict choice and legal independence in the longer term.

GLC's Principal Solicitor said: "Access to justice is a constitutional right, not a tin of beans to be bought and sold".

"This Bill promises a future of Scottish 'Tesco law' where multinational supermarkets and banks can own, control and trade shares in solicitors, advocates and the gateways to justice".

"It's a scary thought. Particularly, as the predatory and anti-competitive nature of some multinationals is likely to result in small and medium sized Scottish legal firms being artificially undercut and forced out of business in mainstream areas of legal practice."

"The most curious aspect of the rush to embrace 'Tesco law' in Scotland is the startling fact that neither the OFT nor Which? provided an empirical Scottish case which showed the legal market in Scotland was failing consumers in terms of choice and competitiveness".

Further discussion of this story is on the Scottish Television site, and at Mike's The Firm online blog.

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