Legal Services Regulation

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th November 2021.

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Photo of Michelle Thomson Michelle Thomson Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government how it will ensure that the views of consumers are adequately heard in its consultation on legal services regulation reform. (S6O-00339)

The Minister for Community Safety (Ash Regan):

A public consultation based on Esther Roberton’s recommendations from her independent review of legal services regulation was published on 1 October and will run until 24 December 2021. We have also published a summary consultation, which is designed to allow participants without detailed knowledge of the current framework of regulation to share their views on and priorities for legal services regulation reform. In parallel, we are undertaking a series of consultation focus groups to increase the opportunity for the public to respond to the consultation in part or in whole.

Details of the consultation have been shared on the Scottish Government’s Twitter page, and we continue to engage with stakeholder networks, such as Citizens Advice Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, to amplify and promote the consultation to ensure that we reach as wide an audience as possible.

The consultation is available on the Scottish Government website, if anyone is interested and wants to respond to it.

Photo of Michelle Thomson Michelle Thomson Scottish National Party

I declare that I am an interested party, as I have a current complaint.

Section A of the consultation, which is on potential regulatory models, requires strong responses from consumers, particularly those such as me who have recent direct experience of the current system. At present, I believe that the system is heavily biased against the consumer’s interest.

Will the minister meet me to hear about my experience? Will the Government issue an urgent call to Consumer Voice to ensure that not just the lawyers and their representative bodies, but consumer voices, are heard?

Ash Regan:

I agree. I think that a strong response from consumers and those with lived experience will be very important as ministers consider the reform of legal services regulation. I am clear that the future framework should place consumer interests at its heart.

I assure the member that the Scottish Government is actively encouraging consumers to participate in the consultation. We engaged early with the SLCC consumer panel to seek its advice on how to do that. I call on all consumers with an interest to participate in the consultation that I mentioned in my previous answer.

I would be very happy to meet the member to discuss the matter in more detail.