Scottish regulators hit back at Which? complaint

The Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates have criticised the consumer group Which? for “jumping the gun” when filing a super-complaint against the Scottish legal profession.

The consumer association complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), claiming that the Scottish legal service is failing consumers due to its strict regulations enforced by the society and the Faculty, as reported on www.the (8 May).

Michael Clancy, director of law reform at the Law Society of Scotland, said he was “disappointed” that Which? had chosen this route to raise the issues instead of working with the society to benefit the Scottish public.

“The Scottish Executive has promised Scottish solutions to Scottish issues,” said Clancy. “The society followed up last year’s Scottish Executive report into the legal services with the Deputy Minister for Justice Johann Lamont in January and suggested that a working group be resurrected to address various issues about the legal services market.”

The faculty agreed with the society, stating that the position of Scotland’s legal system is going to be addressed, so Which? has complained before the Scottish Executive has been able to address any issues.

A faculty spokesman said: “The faculty would expect that the appropriate place for consideration of the structure of the legal profession in Scotland is within that legislative framework.

“As a result of any such consideration, changes may be made that would address the concerns of Which?.”

Which? believes that the strict regulation hinders market innovation and restricts consumer choice, which may lead to higher prices, and so is calling for deregulation in a similar style to that being introduced in England and Wales through the Clementi reforms.