Scotland Policy Conferences

Legal services in Scotland - next steps for regulatory reform, international competitiveness and innovation in the sector

Morning, Thursday, 7th November 2019

Central Edinburgh


This seminar will be an opportunity to discuss the final report of the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation following its expected publication. Delegates will consider the conclusions reached by the Review on the scope and focus of regulation and the function of regulators, as well as the impact the proposed recommendations will have on the legal profession.

The seminar will look at the role of the regulators, with discussion focusing on their remits and how they balance the regulatory objectives. This will include the contested issue of independence of the regulatory arms of legal bodies, following the Legal Services Board open consultation on internal governance, as well as the announcement by CILEx of its intention to give its regulatory body complete structural independence. Delegates may also consider the prospect of a single overarching regulator.

Attendees will examine the position of the consumer in the legal services market, following the Legal services market study, published by the CMA in 2016, which found deficiencies in the way that the market was serving individuals and small businesses.

As concerns have also been raised by the Legal Services Board about the slow progress in this area flowing from the 2007 Act, discussion will draw out practical solutions for increasing transparency, such as bolstering current requirements for law firms and barristers to publish fees as well as regulatory status clearly online.   

The agenda will additionally look at how to best support consumers in order that they can engage confidently with providers, as well as latest thinking on how a framework can be developed that addresses the unmet legal need.

Attendees will consider the challenges faced by the sector in adopting new forms of technology, including developing systems that can improve access to justice and cost-effectiveness for lawyers and clients. We expect discussion on whether greater regulatory flexibility is required to encourage the adoption of innovative solutions  - such as the unbundling of legal services, and expansion of the use of AI systems beyond areas such as document reviews, contract checks and due diligence.

The seminar will also be an opportunity to assess the extent to which professional service firms have effectively entered the legal services market since the Legal Services Act 2007, as well as the transformation of more law firms to professional services companies offering a range of services.

Delegates will consider the appropriateness of the reserved activities as currently defined and the demands for greater flexibility in the regulatory framework to allow wider competition.

We also anticipate discussion on waivers granted to unregulated businesses, as well as the regulatory changes contained in the new SRA Standards and Regulations rulebook, expected to come into force in November.

Keynote Speaker

Ash Denham MSP

Minister for Community Safety, The Scottish Government

Keynote Speakers

Senior speaker confirmed from the Competition and Markets Authority

Ash Denham MSP

Minister for Community Safety, The Scottish Government


Rona Mackay MSP

Deputy Convener, Justice Committee


Craig Cathcart

Convener, Regulatory Committee, Law Society of Scotland

Mary Bonsor

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, F-LEX

Christine McLintock

former President, Law Society of Scotland and Member, Review Panel, Report of the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation in Scotland

Paul Carlyle

Chair, Scottish Legal International

Mike McGlinchey

Head, Client Consulting, Pinsent Masons

Alison Hook

Chair, International Trade in Legal Services Committee, International Bar Association

Charlotte Smith

Public Affairs Officer, Nations and Regions, Which?

Ruth Innes QC

Faculty of Advocates

Iain Mitchell QC

Chairman, Scottish Society for Computers and Law

Paul Hilton

Chief Executive Officer, Altis Legal