Scots hail OFT’s call to relax restrictions

Scotland’s legal profession has welcomed calls from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for the Scottish legal regulators to relax the restrictions over legal services.

The OFT, in its recommendations to the Scottish Executive and legal profession, called for restrictions on legal services to be cut as it could be harming consumers.

The proposals echoed calls made in a super-complaint from consumers’ association Which? (www.thelawyer. com, 8 May) that said consumers would benefit from the restrictions, including varying advocates’ business structures, being lifted.

Sean Williams, OFT executive director of markets and projects, said: “The restrictions are unnecessary and prevent solicitors and advocates from innovating to meet the needs of consumers.”

John Campbell QC, the founder of Oracle Chambers, the first new set in Scotland for 50 years, commented: “The OFT has now quite properly swept aside the Faculty of Advocates’ arguments against reform.”

Colin Gray, managing partner at McGrigors, added that the OFT’s recommendations will “help to create a level playing field across the UK legal market. We must avoid limiting choice for clients, which in turn may have a negative impact on the region’s economy.”

Douglas Mill, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “What we must ensure, though, is that Scotland seeks its own solutions and that access to justice and protection of the public remain core to any plans for reform.”