Scottish Law Agents Society - News Scottish Law Agents Society - News Scottish Law Agents Society - News en-gb Copyright 2020 Scottish Law Agents Society. All Rights Reserved. Scottish Law Agents Society <![CDATA[Notice of Annual General Meeting 2020]]> /node/3096 /node/3096#comments Notice is hereby given that the AGM of the Scottish Law Agents’ Society will take place on

Thursday 18th June 2020 at 5.30pm at the Royal Faculty of Procurators, Nelson Mandela Square, Glasgow

The offices of President and Vice president become vacant and there are number of vacancies on the Council. An Independent Examiner requires to be appointed. Members are invited to nominate candidates. A nomination form is attached. And this should be completed and returned to the Secretary, Andrew Stevenson, 14, The Firs, Millholm Road, Cathcart, Glasgow G44 3YB or to, to be received by the Secretary by 20th May 2020.


  1. Sederunt and Apologies
  2. Impact of Coronavirus
  3. Minutes of the 2019 AGM
  4. Annual Accounts
  5. President’s Annual Report
  6. Election of Office Bearers
  7. Appointment of Independent Examiner
  8. A.O.C.B.

Members wishing to attend the AGM or not are invited to send their views and comments in advance to the Secretary.

Andrew Stevenson

General Tue, 14 Apr 2020 22:52:43 +0100
<![CDATA[Coronavirus Guidance from the Law Society]]> /node/3095 /node/3095#comments We see that the Law Society of Scotland have produced a raft of guidance for practice in the currenct circumstances. Some of it seems quite helpful.





General Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:03:32 +0000
<![CDATA[PRICE TRANSPARENCY - NEW "GUIDANCE"]]> /node/3094 /node/3094#comments Some members are concerned as to the practical significance of the new guidance which has been issued by the Law Society aka the Regulatory Committee. We therefore attach below a pdf of the guidance in question and propose to incude our own counter guidance in the March Gazette. Any member who would care to offer any query, observation or other intelligence is invited to put it into the mix by sendng it by email to me at (the usual email address of secretary@ etc being out of commission a least for the time being).



Member News Fri, 07 Feb 2020 17:13:33 +0000
<![CDATA[TCPD Goes National with a Free Trial Podcast - 2019-2020]]> /node/3084 /node/3084#comments First of all, we have to welcome into the profession and to membership of SLAS, the 2019 cohort of new colleagues. With 27 members, this was the largest group that has taken the programme although not all members were doing the whole programme this year. As can be seen from the photographs, this at least looks like a superb new cohort of future colleagues and, from our training programme, we have every confidence that they will take the profession successfully into a future which has, by courtesy of Esther Robertson and others such as the Competition and Markets Authority, suddenly begun to look ominously interesting.

Michael Franklin, Michael Cunningham, Andrew Mack, Calum Thornton, Lewis Barn

Sheila Mackintosh, Kaitlin Boswell, Jasmine Ferguson, Antonia Jones, Nicola Cathcart

Alannah Sloss, Taylor Muir, Laura McGurnughan, Matthew Albiston, Laura Robb, Luci Petrescu, Amrit Singh Pawar, Laura Barnett

Lauren McGhie, Jennifer O’Brien, Lauren Smith, Christine Brownlie

As far as the 2020 programme is concerned, we have decided to consider whether or not it is appropriate for a national society such as SLAS, to present a training programme which can only be undertaken by physical attendance within Glasgow City Centre. We will now look at a possible, new timetable which will reduce substantially the number of face to face attendances in Glasgow and introduce an element of electronic networking which will enable suitable parts of the programme to be undertaken by podcast or such like at a distance. The draft timetable is printed below. As you can see, this proposes an element of Saturday morning attendance and we would be most interested to hear from prospective subscribers as to whether that is something that would be welcomed. It may be that we will revise the timetable if Saturdays are deemed to be beyond the pale or it may even be that we would run alternative timetables in parallel if the number of interests makes that financially feasible. Please send your views and comments to If you wish to book a place on the 2020 programme, then please go to and click on the news item entitled Free Trial Podcast where you will find an application form which you can download, print, complete and post into the address provided.

As usual the trainers feel they learned as much from the 2019 programme as the trainees who brought to the course an interest and enthusiasm which helped everyone to enjoy and benefit from it. Over the years, we have come to the conclusion that one of the most valuable aspects of the programme , if not the most valuable, is the opportunity for trainees to network in a community with trainees from other firms in other parts of the country and from other areas of legal practice. I emphasise the collegiate nature of the TCPD at this particular point in time because we now hear the sound of jungle drums that seek to diminish or extinguish that aspect of the programme. This is based on the premise that it is the firms which pay for the TCPD and, rather than lose their trainee solicitors for periods of time attending TCPD programmes, they could be better trained for the particular purposes of the training firms if they did that training in house. This would avoid periods out of the office and would make the trainee more specifically suitable for work in that firm, if their traineeship is extended into a long term position. There are two huge fallacies in that position. In the first place, it assumes that, because most firms pay for their trainees’ TCPD programmes, then somehow the firm becomes the paying customer. That is not the case. The customer is very much the trainee. The trainee is entitled to a proper training as a solicitor and not a restricted training as a clone to a particular firm. The second fallacy is the assumption that the trainee will proceed to a long term or permanent position in the training firm. That is most certainly not the case as 22 trainees found out a few years ago when, having undertaken traineeships addressed specifically to work in the Crown Office, found that their positions were terminated at the conclusion of their traineeships. Many of them were subsequently re-engaged at Crown Office but the position was made clear that that might not necessarily have been the case.

Although our formal meetings run from January to June 2020, the community forms itself by email, podcast and website communication as soon as trainees apply to join the programme. This way, we hope to have much of the basis of the programme established before the formal meetings commence. We also provide subscribing trainees with a one year free membership of the Scottish Law Agents Society, including all publications and other members’ rights during that period. This further extends the networking potential of the programme. Please find application forms for the TCPD programme enclosed with this edition.

We also welcome the new cohort of trainees to the TCPD 2020 programme and ask for the assistance of the wider SLAS membership (ie you) with the course input which can only come from the practising profession and which distinguishes our programme from those provided from outwith the practising profession. If, in the course of your practice, you come across some particular gem of a style or some unusual and instructive document of legal title or some piece of correspondence which casts light upon some particular practical issue, or a piece of legislation of particular usefulness, then please think about sending a copy with or without comment to Any such item should of course be suitably anonymised and, if not, will certainly be anonymised at our end prior to use or presentation. Much of the programme is made up from such items provided from a relatively narrow range of practitioners and while these items make a valuable contribution to the course, I am convinced there is much richer seam of intelligence waiting to be mined for the better instruction and training not only of trainee solicitors but of the “practising” membership of SLAS at large.

We propose therefore one particular, important change in the structure of the TCPD programme for 2020. We propose to incorporate delivery by podcast. These podcasts will be supported by email material and participation will be verified by the return of email responses within set periods. For example, the Legal Writing module will be supported by email text and trainees will be required to return responses to requests contained within the podcast delivery. The timetable is shown below. However, this is very much in draft at the present time and we seek to run a trial podcast exercise which you can find by visiting, go to the News Section and open Free Trial Podcast where you will find a link to the podcast.

Please note that the venue for our programme at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow is situated at about 200 metres from Queen Street Station and is particularly convenient for attendance by train.

It would be very helpful if, when making your application, you would let us know of any particular matters you would like to address during the TCPD programme or of any particular problems you anticipate in the course of training and legal practice. Do you know how to address the persons who will preside over the various different courts and tribunals and other forms of hearing in which you will be called to make representations? Is it sufficient to have communications recorded in electronic format or is it necessary also to retain paper copies with wet signatures? Would you like the programme to include a basic instruction as to how to manage an email account and electronic document construction and management? This is your programme and you are invited to reflect upon your studies and experience thus far and to contribute to the construction of a programme which will be of the maximum interest and benefit.

General Wed, 13 Nov 2019 15:21:59 +0000
<![CDATA[FREE TRIAL PODCAST - Trainees Continuing Professional Development (TCPD)]]> /node/3082 /node/3082#comments  

Trainees Continuing Professional Development  (TCPD)

This message is for the attention of trainee solicitors who require to take the TCPD programme and an application form is attached for the joint Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow (RFPG)/ Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS) TCPD programme which will run fromJanuary to June 2020 with additional – non mandatory-  involvement available through until the end of 2020.

First of all find attached an application form which you may download, complete and send to the Scottish Law Agents Society 166 Buchanan Street Glasgow G1 2 LW or DX 266 Glasgow along with a remittance for £100 in payment of the deposit against the total course fee of £900.

Then see attached also an application form for one year’s free membership of SLAS which you should also download, complete and return along with the TCPD application. You will be free to terminate your membership of SLAS after the first year without any payment required.

Next, see the text of an article which describes the TCPD experience including the proposed timetable on which you are invited to comment, particularly with regard to the proposed Saturday morning meetings and the use of podcasts.

Finally, copy and paste this link –

  to find a free trial podcast which you are invited to undertake whether or not you apply to the joint TCPD programme.   Indeed, even if you are a qualified solicitor you might wish to undertake this podcast module and obtain one hour of free CPD. Of course, we can only confirm TCPD or CPD undertaking if there is suitable verification of attendance in place.  The conditions of certification therefore are that you watch the podcast in one sitting and send emails at the appropriate prompts so that these will arrive during the presentation of the podcast and also that you complete and submit within 48 hours of attending the podcast a response to the question set at the end of the podcast.

For any further information please send your inquiry to     


        SLAS Membership Application Form  (REFERRED TO ABOVE)

     I apply for membership of the Scottish Law Agents Society.

Signature             ……………………………………………………………...….

Full Name           …………………………………………………………….…

Firm Name          ………………………………………………………………

Firm Address      ……………………………………………………………


DX No.        …………………………………Date……………………………

e-mail address     ………………………………………………………………

Date qualified/Commenced Traineeship     ……………………………………………………………

Telephone           …………………………………………………………….


Category          Cost

Solicitor/General                  £80.00

Trainee/Retired /Qualified within last 3 years                   £40.00

Gazette Only (UK)                £50.00

Gazette Only (Overseas)                 £60.00

TCPD 2020                                  £ nil


                                               Post or fax to:

Secretary, Scottish Law Agents Society, 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, G1 2LW

Phone : 0141 332 3536         Fax : 0141 353 3819      Email:




I wish to apply for enrolment in the Trainees Continuing Professional Development (TCPD) Course provided by the Scottish Law Agents Society and the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow subject to conditions including the following:


1 I understand that my application will only be considered when my remittance for the deposit of £100 made payable to Sheridan's/SLAs/TCPD has been received by Scottish Law Agents Society, 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 2LW DEX GW 266 (please note that you may transmit this remittance by credit card by telephone direct to Scottish Law Agents Society on 0141 332 3536). Detailed course conditions will then be issued to you for acceptance and confirmation of your place.


2 upon receipt of my application I will be contacted by the course convenor to discuss the most suitable date to commence the TCPD.


3 if I wish to cancel my application after making payment of the said deposit of £100 I shall receive a refund of £50 if such cancellation is intimated more than one month before the commencement of the course and I shall receive no refund of deposit if the cancellation is later than one month before the commencement of the course.


4. The total course fee of £900 shall be paid, in the same manner as a deposit, at least one week before the commencement of the course and shall otherwise be subject to an administrative surcharge of 10%










Date of Commencement of Traineeship...................................


Contact Telephone Number......................................................


Email Address.........................................................................


Any Other Comments.................................................................






TCPD Article/Time Table Referred to Above

Scottish Law Agents Society   and   Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow – Joint Programme

Trainees Continuing Professional Development (TCPD) has been prescribed by the Law Society as a requirement for the professional qualification of trainee solicitors.  A team from the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow (RFPG) and the Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS)   has drawn up a programme which meets all of the requirements of the Law Society aimed at supporting but with the minimum of disturbance to the main training vehicle, the traineeship itself, while providing through a team of experienced solicitors an excellent training in each of the main areas of legal practice. As far as possible this programme will be part of your traineeship rather than be additional to it and will incorporate topics requisitioned by your training firm.

In particular, the trainees taking the course will complete the Law Society requirements for  training in:-

•              Professional Ethics and Standards

•              Professionalism

•              Professional communication

•              Business, financial, commercial and practice awareness

•              Substantive and relevant legal knowledge

The course will take the form of a series lectures, discussions, webinars, transactions, draftings, adjustments pleadings, trials, debates etc., to be convened from January 2019 to June 2019 with a helpline facility running on to January 2020 at a total cost of £900 (No VAT) per participant, including all materials and some hospitality.   Our programme proposes that all trainees taking the course shall

1 .Under the guidance of an experienced solicitor, study the construction and content of a typical solicitor’s client file.

2 .Make representations in the Sheriff Court in a contested matter.

3. Analyse a model set of domestic residential missives and deal with a specific drafting difficulty.

4. Analyse the pleadings contained in a genuine Closed Record and engage in legal argument thereon (No, we won’t, yes we will)

5. Analyse the terms of a standard private client’s Will and adjust a variation further to a specific instruction.

6. Draw a petition for the appointment for an executor dative in specific circumstances and ascertain and complete the forms necessary for the confirmation of an executor in an inheritance tax liable estate.

7. Analyse a common form of offer for the purchase of commercial premises, including the business operated therein and distinguish this from a share transfer proposal.

8 .Listen to a senior expert practitioner describe the criminal process at Sheriff Court level.

9. Meet senior officials from the Scottish Legal Aid Board and discuss the legal aid process and use of I.T. in that process.

10. Meet a senior official from the Law Society of Scotland and discuss the complaints issue with particular reference to the new Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

11. Meet an experienced practitioner for an analysis of the fee charging process and the dangers and difficulties that can arise.

12 .Engage in negotiation for the settlement of an action raised in the context of nuisance, based on a genuine closed record.

13. Meet a technical legal issue in an interview context with expert guidance to hand with participation in approx. 12 scenarios.

14 .Rehearse a scripted summary trial and respond, individually, without script, to particular issues arising.

15. Engage in discussion of client care with an experienced solicitor using relevant and up to date materials.

16 .Review the use IT facilities which are available to the legal profession as outlined by an experienced solicitor / IT practitioner.

17.  Examine critically, along with an experienced solicitor, various examples of written documents required in day to day legal practice.

18. Review, in discussion with an experienced practitioner, the importance of diary, personal organisation, time and risk management issues.

19. .Engage in a series of meetings with an acknowledged expert in professional ethics to review ethical issues in the practice of law and make presentations in relation to specific case studies.

20. .Analyse a common form of commercial lease and draw an amendment thereto in terms of a given correspondence.

21. .Listen to a distinguished, senior solemn trial expert describe the preparation process in detail.

22. .Meet a Chartered Accountant and to review examples of company account, executry accounts and consider financial aspects of legal practice.

23. .Take away a DVD recording of his / her own performance in specific parts of the course.

Book your place or intimate an expression of interest by email to quoting reference TCPD-Jan-19 and stating your name and the name/address of your firm and your traineeship commencement date.


Draft Time Table

Friday, 24/01/2020         

Registration and Introduction for preparation of course 10am – 11am

Personal Organisation and Time Management   11am – 1pm

Ethics  2pm – 6pm


Saturday, 25/01/2020    

Executry Practice 9am – 12pm   


By Pod-cast (dates to be adjusted)          Legal Writing  2 hours   

Negotiation - 3 hours


By Pod-cast (dates to be adjusted)                          Conveyancing  2  hours


Friday, 28/02/2020         

Civil Litigation  10am – 1pm       

Civil Litigation  2pm – 5pm         


Saturday, 01/03/2020    

Client Care workshop 9am – 10:30am    

Criminal Litigation  10:30am – 12:30pm 


By Pod-cast (dates to be adjusted)            IT and the legal office  2 h 30 m

                                                                 Governance of legal profession 2 hours

                                                                 Commercial Leases  2 hours                                       


Legal Aid provision  10am – 12 noon      

Professional Conduct  12 noon – 1pm    

Sheriff Court presentation  2pm – 6pm 



Criminal Litigation 9am – 11am

Financial and Commercial Awareness  11am – 1pm        

Financial and Commercial Awareness (2)  2pm – 3pm    

Interview scenarios  3pm – 5:30pm                        








General Wed, 16 Oct 2019 16:41:25 +0100
<![CDATA[Proposed Changes to the Accounts Rules Consultation]]> /node/3077 /node/3077#comments 25th July 2019

Proposed Changes to the Accounts Rules Consultation - Please read and let us have your views


Dear Sirs,

I am emailing about the proposed addition to the Accounts Rules discussed at the Society’s recent AGM.

At that meeting there appeared to us to be an acknowledgement by those present as to why the rule might be necessary, but concern that perfectly legitimate private client business would be outlawed. It was suggested at the meeting that this concern could be addressed if the Rule were amended to reflect the terms of the Master Policy, namely that solicitors can carry out business “customarily carried out” as a legal service. We have altered the proposed rule to reflect the terms of the Master Policy, and a copy of that is attached.

Ahead of the AGM the Society also circulated draft guidance for comment. At the meeting there was an acknowledgement that the scenarios/examples set out in the guidance were not acceptable practice. However, there was also some comment that it would be useful to have a further discussion about the guidance in general.

You were kind enough to respond to the original consultation on the proposed rule and/or provide comments on the guidance when it was initially circulated. I should be extremely grateful to receive any further comments you may have by 31 July 2019. Thereafter, the guidance and any amendments will be reviewed again via the Society’s committee structure.

Kind regards,

Hugh Sanders,
Law Society of Scotland 


Dear Sirs,

I thank you for your email sent 17 July but I am sorry to say that I am not really in a position to make any further comments, as requested. The main reason for this is that my position is purely representative and I have no mandate to speak for any other solicitors. All I can do is to convey the terms of your consultation to our membership and report back in terms of what is communicated to me. Another incident is that I am a full time, practising solicitor who is currently attending to the business of a partner who is abroad on holiday and this very significantly restricts my facility for conducting a consultation within the very limited timescale which you propose.

Nevertheless, I have circulated your latest input to our membership and I will certainly report back to whenever I have received any relevant input from that membership and, in particular, from some of those solicitors who actually have the responsibility for the day-to-day operation of clients accounts.

The very limited response which I have received as at this date reflects an apprehension that the proposed rules are lacking in specification and somewhat open to interpretation and one respondent points to the difficulties that a solicitor may face who has previously allowed clients to use the client account as a banking facility and where those clients are reluctant to change the arrangement. Such a solicitor might fall foul of the new rules despite having attempted to rectify matters.

I suspect therefore that the rules as proposed imply a massive change in the nature of the clients account and should not be undertaken without much wider consideration by those solicitors who are ultimately responsible for the operation of these accounts.


Michael Sheridan


Twitter: @SheridansLaw

166 Buchanan Street 
G1 2LW

TEL: 0141 332 3536
FAX: 0141 353 3819

DX 266


Amendment Rules - Prohibition on funds in client account unconnected to a transaction –

Draft Guidance For Discussion

While this rule is separate from the requirements of the money laundering regulations, solicitors should be aware of the greatly increased risk of money laundering which arises from use of a client account, for purposes beyond their generally accepted purpose. Solicitor’s client accounts have been rated by the National Risk Assessment 2017 as being at high risk of exploitation by money launderers when they are used for generally accepted purposes. The risk of money laundering when the client account is used for other purposes would clearly be extremely high.

Situations are likely to arise where a solicitor feels that money laundering requirement can be satisfied (risk assessment, client identification etc) but the engagement will involve the use of the client account extending beyond its intended purpose, to include the provision of services ordinarily provided by a bank.

Solicitors should assess proposed and ongoing engagements after reviewing the examples below to consider on a case by case basis why they are being asked to handle funds and for what purpose.

Solicitors should satisfy themselves that they will not simply be providing a service which would usually be provided by a bank.

Scenarios in which a practice unit may be said to have breached the proposed rule.

  • A company has its accounts frozen by its bank due to concerns regarding the legitimacy of the funds in the company’s account. Those concerns are thereafter resolved and the accounts released. But, the bank advise the company that they are no longer prepared to act as the company’s bankers, and that they need to bank elsewhere. The company approach a practice unit and ask if the closing balance on their account could be paid to their client account. The practice unit agreed and duly received the funds to their client account. Thereafter, they made payments as instructed by the company - include wages, rent, directors’ loans - direct from the funds in their client account.

    In these circumstances the practice unit were not providing advice to the company on any matter. They were not acting as signatories to the company’s accounts. There was no connection to any legal transaction. The reason the practice unit held the money was simply to do what a bank would normally do for a commercial client – ie to pay the routine business of the client.

  • A practice unit receives a consistent cash payment from a client on the last Friday of each month without explanation of any kind for a long period. The practice unit never receives any instructions regarding the use of the funds. The funds are placed in the client account and recorded on a ledger in the name of the client and are simply held there. The practice unit do not have any knowledge of the source of the funds or why they have been asked to hold the funds in the client account.

    In these circumstances the practice unit did not provide any services to the client beyond lodging the funds in their client account. There was no connection to any legal transaction.

  • A client of the practice received a lower interest rate than that afforded to the practice unit’s client account. The partner’s view is that this would be of great benefit to the client to hold money in the practice unit client account and he agrees to accept the funds on that basis. The practice unit is not acting on any underlying transaction or providing any service other than holding the money.

    The practice unit is effectively offering an investment service but is not subject to financial services regulation as a bank would be. This would be a breach of the rule.

  • The practice has acted on the set up of a financial vehicle involving international investors. Having concluded the advisory project the practice unit are asked by the operators of the vehicle to open a client account for the purpose of collecting investment monies from various parties and distributing them according to instructions from the client, usually towards investment funds and projects.

    If the practice unit operates the client account for such a purpose they are simply carrying out the payment processing role of a bank and adding no ongoing value or service beyond that which would be provided by a bank. Therefore in this case the rule would be breached.

  • On the conclusion of a corporate property transaction, the proceeds are retained in a practice unit’s client account and the client instructs the practice unit to make business expense payments on it’s behalf. These payments are unrelated to a transaction and the proceeds should have been returned to the client so that they could pay their bills directly. This would be in breach of the rule.
  • A property development company sources multiple investors for a development project. The company instructs these investors to pay their investment contribution to a solicitors client account. The solicitor then receives instructions from the development company to pay various fees (project management, architects etc) from the accumulated sum before paying a residual balance back to the development company

The development company should have opened a bank account in its own name and directly processed its receipts and payments to creditors. This arrangement would breach the rule.

The common theme of the examples above is that the solicitors are providing services which would ordinarily be provided by a bank. They are allowing their client account to become the routine current account of a non-solicitor business, accepting and indefinitely holding client money for no purpose beyond merely holding that money, offering the client account for use simply because a client cannot itself obtain comparable terms from a bank, and providing straighforward banking services to third parties who could easily hold the account in their own name and process the receipts and payments.

Examples of what is not prevented by the rule are provided below.:

  • Receiving, holding and distributing monies as part of a solicitor’s role in the conveyancing process
  • Receiving, holding and distributing monies as part of a solicitor’s role in the executry process
  • Receiving, holding and distributing monies as part of a solicitors role in corporate acquisitions, disposals etc
  • Receiving, holding and distributing monies while acting as a trustee
  • Financial activity while acting as a Power of Attorney
  • Holding, receiving and distributing monies from various parties to a deal, with instructions to make payments once conditions specified are judged to have been met.

Solicitors should assess proposed and ongoing engagements after reviewing the above examples to consider on a case by case basis why they are being asked to handle funds and for what purpose. Solicitors should satisfy themselves that they will not simply be providing a service which would usually be provided by a bank.

While this rule is separate from the requirements of the money laundering regulations, solicitors should be aware of the increased risk of money laundering which arise from misuse of a client account. Solicitor’s client accounts have been rated by the National Risk Assessment 2017 as being at high risk of exploitation by money launderers when they are used for generally accepted purposes. The risk of money laundering when the client account is used for other purposes would clearly be extremely high.



Rules dated [ ] 2019 made on behalf of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland by the Regulatory Committee formed in accordance with section 3B(1) of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 under section and 35(1) of that Act and approved by the Lord President under section 34(3) of that Act.

Citation and Commencement

  1. (1) These rules may be cited as The Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules (Amendment No. … Rules) 2019.
    (2) These rules shall come into operation on [ ] 2019.

    Definition and Interpretation

  2. (1) In these rules, the "Principal Rules" shall mean The Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011.
    (2) The Interpretation Act 1978 applies to the interpretation of these rules as it applies to the interpretation of an Act of Parliament.

    Amendment to the Principal Rules

  3. The following shall be added immediately after rule B6.3.1 (c) of the Principal Rules:

    “(d) ensure that payments into a client account are in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service which is customarily (but not necessarily exclusively) carried on or transacted by solicitors in Scotland. within the course of a normal solicitor/client relationship.”

  4. The following shall be added immediately after rule B6.5.2 of the Principal Rules:

    “6.5.3 Transfers or withdrawals from a client account must be in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service which is customarily (but not necessarily exclusively) carried on or transacted by solicitors in Scotland. within the course of a normal solicitor/client relationship.” arising in the normal course of the solicitor client relationship

Member News Thu, 25 Jul 2019 15:36:14 +0100
<![CDATA[Regulation of Solicitors - Short Video Presentation and the Questions]]> /node/3075 /node/3075#comments To view the presentation, please click here -

  1. Are you of the view that the government has indicated an intention to transfer the regulation of the provision of legal services from the judicial to the executive branch of state authority?
  2. Do you consider the transfer referred to above to be consistent with the rule of law with particular reference to the doctrine of the separation of powers? If that transfer is not so consistent, is that likely to prevent it from taking place?
  3. Do you consider the transfer referred to above to be consistent with the independence of the legal profession?
  4. Do you consider the transfer referred to above to be in the interests of the public?
  5. Do you consider it now to be appropriate for the professional individuals responsible for the provision of legal services to consider collectively the potential consequences of the transfer referred to above?
  6. What, if any, merits do you identify within the proposals set out in the Roberton Review?
  7. Do you support the setting up by practising solicitors and advocates of a specific body to review and advise as to regulatory issues and to assist practitioners to make an influential input into these issues?
  8. Do you think that, if such a body were to be formed with the support of a substantial majority of relevant practitioners, that body would be able to exercise influence upon the determinations of the executive?
  9. If you do not support the setting up of the body referred to above, do you have any alternative suggestions as to how the relevant legal professionals might influence the regulatory process?
  10. What, if any, other questions do you think that this meeting should address?
Member News Fri, 24 May 2019 11:49:59 +0100
<![CDATA[12 Point Summary of SLAS Opposition to the Roberton Review ]]> /node/3065 /node/3065#comments 1. The Rule of Law
The Report has taken no account of the Rule of Law, the doctrine of separation of powers of
legislature, executive and justiciary which is the foundation of the rule of law.
The Scottish Government (SG) will appoint persons to the new regulator. Warnings of
ignoring this are cf. Zimbabwe, Turkey and Poland.

2. We already have external regulation -external from solicitors and Government.
The Regulatory Committee (RC) of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) was set up to be separate from the LSS. This has proved so in practice. The RC is under the Lord President of the Court of Session as part of the Judiciary, which respects the rule of law. MSPs worked hard for a solution to external regulation, found it and enacted it only 9 years ago.
The Roberton Report does not acknowledge this and will unpick what MSPs tried so carefully to do in creating an RC.

3. Lack of evidence
There is a lack of evidence regarding the operation of the Scottish Legal Services market.
Changes require to be evidence based.

4. It will destroy the Law Society of Scotland
The Report is in denial. Without doubt its effect will be kill off the LSS whose statutory functions and raison d'etre will disappear. If it sets up a new voluntary representative body, it is likely to be a toothless and faint shadow version and certainly not the robust organisation Roberton foresees.
LSS agitated for a review of the regulation of the profession to change the operation of parts of the Complaints system that were not working with suggestions for positive improvements with public and consumer interest in mind. This was their request.
It is a slap in the face that this demonstrable lack of self interest has led to such a perverse result on the whistleblower.

5. A single regulator

Too much power in one body. Think of Police Scotland, a large national organisation with no
understanding of the local position in the regional areas it oversees.

6. Barriers to Entry to Profession
There are no barriers to entry to the profession that are not in the public interest.
The Economics Report concludes there is insufficient evidence as to whether current restrictions are detrimental to functioning of the market. So there is nothing to suggest that there is any need for new types of ABS entering the market.

7. Competition
There are around 4,000 solicitors in the High Street in Scotland so there is adequate competition between, in the main, relatively small units competing against each other.

8. Pre Contract Information
It is already compulsory for Firms to issue Letters of Engagement.

9. The complaints system needs amendment
as outlined by the LSS not abolition.

10. The Report demonstrates lack of understanding of who "consumers"are.
It does not understand that in general only the High Street solicitors are dealing with “consumers”.

11. Scotland is a small country.
The idea of attracting people to Scotland and its courts and to use Scots Law instead of their own is not just unlikely but blind to the real world.

12. Cost
The cost of LSS running the present system is reduced hugely by the use of solicitors giving their time free of charge in the various committees including the complaints committees. The new body is likely to go the way of SLCC and SLAB and bring rampant additional cost which ultimately will be passed on to the consumer!
E.g. see the proposed budget of SLCC for 2019/20. If agreed, it would generate an estimated total income of £3.7 million for the SLCC representing a rise of almost 40% in 4 years.

Member News Wed, 08 May 2019 11:11:58 +0100
<![CDATA[Who should regulate Solicitors?]]> /node/3060 /node/3060#comments Please find below some materials which contribute to this important debate and please consider sending your own point of view to

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Law Agents Society will take place on :-


The offices of President and Vice President become vacant and there are a number of vacancies on the Council and members are invited to nominate candidates. Nominations must be in the hands of the Secretary not later than 28 days before the AGM, ie. by 5pm on 23rd May 2019.


  1. Sederunt and Apologies
  2. Minutes of AGM 2018
  3. Annual Accounts
  4. The President’s Annual Report
  5. Election of Office Bearers
  6. Issue for Discussion - Representation of the solicitors profession in respect of current proposals for statutory regulation.
  7. SLAS Consumer Group- Report by Ian Ferguson
  8. Any Other Competent Business

Members, whether intending to attend the AGM or not are invited to send in their views for publication on the above, or any other topics, beforehand by email to Anonymity shall be preserved where requested. See website for further details of AGM.

Michael Sheridan,Secretary


2. Dancing to the Executive Jig

Members may be considering whether the future regulation of the solicitors’ profession will be maintained by the Law Society of Scotland or whether it will fall to the new Independent Regulator presaged by the Roberton Review. SLAS Council might be prevailed upon to convene a debate and seek to establish a consensus as to the preferred way forward. Members are invited to inform Council by email to whether they would wish such an opportunity.

We are faced with a choice between, on the one hand, a body in which solicitors are excluded by a statutory constitution from the majority and from the chair of the regulatory authority and, on the other hand, a body in which solicitors are excluded by a statutory constitution from the chair and from the majority of the regulatory authority.

There may be other factors which actually distinguish the two options but is clear that the executive intends that the legal profession will be regulated in future by a statutory authority without interference from any solicitors’ Council or judicial authority. Both bodies will dance to the same Executive Jig. The real question for debate therefore does not concern which of two statutorily controlled bodies will regulate the profession but, rather, how will the solicitors’ profession exercise any influence in that regulation. It seems likely that the solicitors’ profession will not have any voice in these seismic changes or in the ongoing regulation unless they make that voice themselves. It is a bit like our pensions. At this late stage, the profession might seek out its own representative body, supported by a full time office, employing research staff to keep the profession fully informed as to regulatory developments and requirements and to assist in the formulation of such strategies, submissions and, wherever required, legal action as may be required to maintain the vigour and independence of the profession in the face of statutory incursion. This is a challenging project which would call for near unanimous commitment around SLAS and in the wider, practising profession.

Members are invited to start the ball rolling by notifying their support in principle for taking the project forward, by email, as soon as possible and, at the latest by the end of April. Members who do not respond will be of exactly the same effect as voting against the project.

See also the agenda for the SLAS AGM on Thursday, 20 June 2019 from 5:30 PM at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow and all members are invited to attend either personally or by representation.


3. Seismic Change

This is a period of seismic change in the regulation of the legal profession. Whereas previously there was a long-standing consensus that the solicitors’ profession be regulated by a Council of Solicitors at the Law Society and that the specialist branch of advocates be regulated by the Faculty of Advocates within the College of Justice, both subject to the oversight of the Lord President of the Court of Session, the government now appears to be considering the exclusion of solicitors and advocates and judicial oversight from that regulation. These conclusions follow from the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 and from the terms of the Roberton Review which set out a stall at which the regulation of legal services shall be transferred from the judicial to the executive (government) branch of state authority. However, given that the government itself is frequently a party to actions in the courts, there is serious doubt as to the propriety of that government having regulatory control over legal representation at court.

That regulatory control governs the education and training of future lawyers, their admission to the profession, their conduct as legal representatives and, indeed, their ongoing suitability to continue to practise as lawyers. It includes power to censure, fine and exclude from practice those lawyers who are found to have been of unsatisfactory standard. Should one side of a legal dispute really have those powers over the legal representatives of the other party to that dispute? One should perhaps reflect upon the recent court action involving the government and a former first minister and the difficulty that any lawyer would have had in calling their own regulatory master to account for the mismanagement of its own process. One might conclude that the regulation of the legal profession should be a thoroughly independent process, not under the control of a potential party to proceedings in court.

It seems that the legal profession itself will have no voice in these seismic changes or in the ongoing regulation unless they make that voice for themselves. That profession might look to setting up its own representative body, supported by a full time office, employing research staff to keep inpidual members of the profession fully informed as to regulatory developments and requirements and to assist in the formulation of such strategies, submissions and, wherever required, legal action as may be necessary to maintain the vigour and independence of the profession in the face of statutory incursion, a facility which is entirely lacking at present. This is a challenging project which would call for near unanimous commitment around the practising profession. The Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS) aims to start the ball rolling by calling for a meeting of all interested persons and bodies to coincide with its own AGM on Thursday, 20 June 2019 from 5:30 PM at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow. This meeting shall address the following questions:- has the government indicated an intention to transfer the regulation of legal services from the judicial to the executive (government) branch of state authority ? Would such a transfer be consistent with the rule of law with particular reference to the doctrine of the separation of powers? What, input, if any, should the legal profession itself have into the regulation of that profession ? Would that transfer be in the interests of the public? To what other issues do these proposed changes give rise?

However, neither the law of Scotland nor the legal process including the regulation of lawyers belongs to the government or to the legal profession or to anyone other than the Scottish public and this is clearly a time when members of that public might wish to reflect upon these issues and raise relevant questions or make their own recommendations by whatever means they see fit and these would be particularly well received by our Society by email at The Scottish Law Agents Society hopes for a wide debate which shines a light on all the issues and interests and arrives at a solution which guarantees each member of the public access to vigorous and independent legal representation when it is needed. Read more at

Michael Sheridan,May 2019


4. Ken Swinton’s article from the Gazette Vol 87-1 published April 2019

Regulator lessons from south of the border: ICAEW v Lord Chancellor

The regulatory landscape for legal professions in England and Wales differs quite markedly from that in Scotland. As a result of the Legal Services Act 2007, south of the border, the Legal Services Board [LSB] was created as a new super-regulator which in turn authorised front-line regulators to license inpidual practitioners and entities. The most familiar front-line regulator is the Solicitors Regulatory Authority [SRA] which licenses solicitors, legal firms and English ABS entities. For a number of years the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales [ICAEW] has held authorisation from the LSB to licence its members, with suitable qualifications, to undertake probate business. In 2016 the ICAEW sought further permissions in relation to rights of audience, conduct of litigation and reserved instrument activities but only in relation to taxation services. In December 2016 ICAEW sought to vary their application to restrict its ability to authorise persons carrying on rights of audience and conduct of litigation to qualified lawyers only. It argued that otherwise it would have to offer appropriate legal training courses for those intending offering the services and this would take time and money which it did not wish to outlay without evidence of demand for the take up of such courses. This would have had the result that ICAEW would regulate the entity and those providing the services would be regulated in the main by the SRA. Of course the entity would also contain other professionals who would be regulated by ICAEW or elsewhere. This was really a cheeky attempt at regulation on the cheap and might be seen by some as an attempt to woo legal practitioners who had become disillusioned by the SRA’s costs and allegedly ‘principles based’ regulation.

ICAEW has both regulatory and representational functions in relation to chartered accountants. It has a Council which is responsible for strategy and budget. Council is assisted by a Board which deals with policy, operational matters, implementation of strategy etc. In addition it has a regulatory board [IRB] which deals with standards and discipline. In many ways this is similar to LSS organisational structures. When ICAEW was authorised in relation to probate services it established a probate committee which dealt with standards and discipline in relation to probate services but was not answerable to the IRB. It is made up of equal numbers of professionals and lay members with a lay chair with a casting vote. As part of its new application ICAEW proposed expanding the committee and renaming it the ‘Legal Services Committee’. It was necessary for the LSB to consult with statutory consultees in relation to the application in terms of the 2007 Act. The Competition and Markets Authority was generally supportive. The Consumer Panel again was generally supportive but expressed concerns about how the limitation on services ‘in relation to taxation’ was to be achieved and also had concerns about the regulatory independence of the proposed Legal Services Committee. The Lord Chief Justice was concerned about ICAEW not providing education courses nor authorisation of inpiduals. He was also concerned that there was a danger of regulatory arbitrage with a race to the bottom likely in the event the application were to be granted.

In relation to notarial services ICAEW proposed authorising inpidual and entities and the Notaries Society and Master of Faculties both expressed concerns about the international recognition of instruments administered by notaries should the application be granted.

ICAEW also proposed ‘information remedies’ which would set out the limitations of the services to be provided thus seeking to address the information asymmetries which clients would otherwise face. The Consumer Panel asked ICAEW to conduct research into the potential clients and the effectiveness or otherwise of such notices as part of the terms of engagement process.

The Lord Chief Justice opposed the application because of the uncertainty and confusion in the proposals.

General Fri, 03 May 2019 15:39:53 +0100
<![CDATA[Time for the Virtual Memo Book]]> /node/3059 /node/3059#comments Council has instructed me to produce the memorandum Book in electronic format this year. I have therefore made a previous Memo book (2013-14) available in electronic format as atrial run. In order to access the trial electronic or virtual memo book you should follow this link:-

However, we have also produce a QR code below which enables you to go straight to the trial Memo book and it is likely that this is the method of distribution which we shall adopt. If your phone does have a QR code reader then you simply google QR code reader and that will take you to the app where you click on Install and the app should appear among the apps on your phone. Then you open the app and point your camera at the code and that will take you straight through to the Memo book.

It would be most helpful if members would follow these directions and report back to myself any difficulties which arise and let me have any other comments regarding the move into an electronic Memo Book.

Some members might prefer that we kept the Memo Book in production in the traditional paper format. That would be my own preference. Unfortunately, that is simply not an option. This is because of the comparative costs of paper and electronic production.


General Tue, 23 Apr 2019 15:27:22 +0100
<![CDATA[Law Society Consultation - New Accounts Rules - No Banking Services]]> /node/3058 /node/3058#comments To be returned by 22 April 2019 (or ASAP) We have received the following notice from the Law Society: In advance of this year’s AGM on Thursday, 30 May, we are consulting on proposed amendments to the Account Rules and welcome your feedback by 22 April.

In advance of this year’s AGM on Thursday, 30 May, we are consulting on proposed amendments to the Accounts rules. The Client Protection Sub-committee has put forward proposals for two additional rules, preventing Scottish solicitors from acting as a bank for their clients. These proposals are in line with our on-going supervisory commitments and to clarify what is required of Scottish solicitors in terms of AML processes and procedures.

It is proposed that the first additional rule is inserted at Part II 6.3.1 which relates to ‘clients' money to be paid into client account or holding ledger’. Proposed rule 6.3.1 (d) shown below) (d) ensure that payments into a client account are in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service within the course of a normal solicitor client relationship. It is proposed that the second additional rule is inserted at Part II 6.5.2 which relates to ‘Drawings from client account’. Proposed rule 6.5.3 shown below. 6.5.3 Transfers or withdrawals from a client account must be in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction (and the funds arising therefrom) or to a service arising in the normal course of the solicitor client relationship.

We are keen to take the views of our members and stakeholders in to consideration and would be grateful to receive your comments at by 10am Monday 22 April. You can view the proposed amendments in context here. (This is simply a link to the rules as they would read if amended, with no further input as to context e.g. the context of solicitors’ normal practice) Secretary’s Note Initially the above proposed changes seemed to me to be relatively innocuous.

However, as I read them over and thought about them I became increasingly concerned. Although neither myself nor my colleagues at SLAS have had time to study these proposals in detail, nevertheless they seem to contain certain dangers and as the time available for consideration is very limited I wish to offer the following, incomplete comments:-

  1. The proposed changes appear to present an unsolicited, unexplained massive restriction upon solicitors’ control of their client accounts. This may bring about a substantial change to the nature of solicitors’ services. Solicitors inevitably act as bankers to the clients and this is no doubt one of the main reasons that the Accounts Rules are so lengthy and demanding. Solicitors also have certain requirements to earn interest on funds held for clients. Solicitors have, in the past and in the same way as with the banks, been subject to Exchange Control regulations. Solicitors are therefore fully equipped and, in certain circumstances, in an ideal position to provide clients with limited banking facilities. SLAS would be particularly interested in views from practitioners who actually have responsibility for hands on operation of clients’ accounts and who are the persons who will be directly affected by the proposed changes.
  2. I cannot find any narrative of explanation or justification as to why solicitors should suffer the infliction of additional restrictions and become subject to increased risks of disciplinary procedures in terms of these new regulations. Whereas there is some reference to the prevention of money laundering, there is no explanation as to why the limited banking services provided by solicitors should necessarily be equated with money laundering.
  3. There are various ways in which solicitors quite normally provide limited and beneficial banking services to the clients, including the earning of interest on funds, whereas the new regulations suggest that all banking operations should prevented . I attach a *list of legitimate client account operations which might be struck at by the new regulations and I would invite colleagues to comment on these and to advise of any other currently legitimate and even beneficial activities that would be prevented by the new regulations.
  4. The limited, informal consultation sought by the Law Society closes on 22 April which is hardly sufficient time for any serious consideration to be given to what might be a very significant change in the Accounts Rules. However, if you are in agreement with the gist of my reservations, then I suggest that you notify the Law Society of your reservations and copy that notification to the Secretary at the Scottish Law Agents Society. If you fail to notify SLAS of your return to the consultation then you are likely to remain isolated and………..
  5. Similarly, if you have the view that there may be some merit in the proposed changes to the accounts regulations then we would be equally keen to hear about and to take on board any such merits.
  6. The recent changes in the Law Society constitution including the virtual abolition of proxy input has made it much more difficult for members of the profession at large to have any voice in the decisions made by the Council of the Law Society in the name of the solicitors’ profession. However, if you wish to oppose these changes then you have to watch for the advance notification of the Law Society AGM due to take place on 30 May 2019 and take the opportunity to record an electronic vote against the creation of these regulations.
  7. There appears to be some danger that the Law Society may be conflicted as between its natural inclination to act as reasonable regulators and representatives of the profession, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the recent call by an independent government review (Roberton) for the abolition of the Law Society and its replacement by an Independent Regulator. By demonstrating an inclination and ability to impose, without proper notice, explanation or discussion, these Draconian new regulations across the profession, the Law Society might commend itself to the Scottish Government sufficiently to remain in existence. Unfortunately, it is the members of the profession who are likely to suffer from the fallout from that conflict.
  8. If you feel that this issue is of sufficient importance then please feel free to communicate these papers to your colleagues in the profession and in particular to those practitioners who have a direct hands on responsibility for the operation of clients accounts and who are the persons who will be most affected by the new regulations, in order to assist them to address what might be a very important issue.


Legitimate Uses of Clients Accounts

  1. Holding retainer fees. We understand that there may be a practice in some firms of receiving retainer fees from particular clients were there is no current instruction or transaction in place but where payment is made in consideration that if certain circumstances arise, then the firm in question will accept instructions from the client in question and, in particular, will not accept instructions to represent any contrary interests or, possibly, from particular competitors. If such circumstances do not arise within the period contemplated by the retainer fee, then these fees may be repaid, possibly subject to administrative charges.
  2. One member has reported a situation in which his firm acted for trustees in holding certain funds pending beneficiaries acquiring full age. Despite repeated solicitations, neither the trustees nor the beneficiaries nor any adults in whom the beneficiaries might have reposed confidence would provide the solicitors with any instructions relative to the ongoing holding of the funds. Instead, the solicitors were instructed to take no action whatsoever pending ultimate disbursement of the funds so that no charges for time, correspondence et cetera would be charged against the trust fund. Despite these instructions, the solicitors required to make certain payments into and out of the trust funds which were held in the clients account during the administration of the trust in respect of, for example, an attempt to transfer the funds to the Sheriff Clerk and taking advice as to the investment of the funds.. It is not clear that relative payments in and out of the clients account would satisfy the new requirements. In any case, it was highly likely that the clients in question would have sought any possible grounds to challenge such payments.
  3. It is not clear whether payments to QLTR which are required by certain regulatory provisions would in fact meet the transactional requirement of the new regulations.
  4. One member further reports the operation of a training programme which requires the operation of a banking facility to ingather fees, meet outlays and make payment of speakers’ fees and, again, it is not clear that the use of the clients account for these purposes would meet the requirements of the new regulations.
  5. One member reports having been involved in litigation between two sets of business partners which necessitated his firm banking cheques from customers as the partnership’s bank froze their accounts and would not accept deposits. Had customers become aware of the on-going warfare, they might well have decided not to pay anyone and save some money.
  6. One traditional banking facility available through solicitors clients accounts is, of course, the encashment of cheques which individual executors would not otherwise be able to cash during the administration of an executry estate. This is a valuable service which solicitors are able to provide to their clients. While such a service may well continue to be available in terms of the new regulations, nevertheless, it does not appear to be consistent with the stated principle that the new rules are designed to prevent solicitors acting as banks.
  7. Another member reported having sought direction from the sheriff court, in terms of a beneficiary below the age of 16 when faced with a will with no trust provisions, whereby a 13 year old inherited approximately £80k. That firm was likely to have to act as a bank for the ensuing 3 years (possibly 5 years). There are also instances whereby solicitors have to hold onto legitim funds for up to 20 years. Furthermore, some solicitors acting under a POA, may be holding onto funds for many years without specific instruction. Therefore, it is arguable there are a number of instances whereby solicitor firms shall hold client funds, effectively acting as a bank, for a number of years, without receiving specific client instructions. These are aspects of normal solicitors business but the new regulations suggest that, as banking operations, they will be prevented as not being within the normal solicitor client relationship. That appears to be a significant error in the reasoning for the changes.
Member News Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:38:22 +0100
<![CDATA[Consultation - Law of Succession Co-habitants’ Rights ]]>’-rights /node/3057 /node/3057#comments Consultation - Law of Succession

Co-habitants’ Rights

We Need Your Input


Law Society of Scotland

The Law Society of Scotland produced a very interesting paper on the Rights of Cohabitants in early March. It sought to review the operation of s28 and s29 of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. Certainly in relation to s29 the timing could not have been less fortunate with the Scottish Government issuing a further consultation document in relation to succession rights only a few days later.


The Society states “We have a statutory duty to work in the public interest” as the rationale for the paper although that rather rewrites the duty to the public in relation to the solicitors’ profession contained in the 1980 Act. At any rate, expressing views on the operation of the provisions in relation to cohabitants is a worthy exercise.


S.28 claims

In relation to s28 the right of a cohabitant to seek financial provision the Society express concerns about the 1 year time limit from the termination of cohabitation to raise proceedings.  They note establishing exacting when cohabitation ended may not be entirely clearcut and they suggest that the legislation should be amended to permit the court some discretion to accept late applications outwith the one year time limit on cause shown.


They also discuss the case of Courtney’s Executors v Campbell [2016] CSOH 136 where it was held that unjustified enrichment actions could not be brought by a former cohabitant on the basis that Parliament had created a statutory remedy in s28 which had expired.  Although there were academic statements that in such circumstances unjustified enrichment could be pursued the general principle was the existence of the remedy precluded the claim. The Society state that it appears unlikely this was the intention of the Scottish Parliament. However the 2006 Act derives from the Scottish Law Commission Report on Family Law No 135 (1992) where the Commission states at para 16.22   ‘the claim is akin to a claim of unjustified enrichment.’  It thus appears clear the statutory provision was intended to replace such claims.


S.29 claims

In relation to this provision the Society points out the potential problem which a claimant may face where claims must be made within six months of the death of the cohabitant. One is highlighted by the case of  X v A, B, C, and D [2016] SC Edin 54. The action must be brought against the executors but in that case no steps had been taken to confirm as executors and the action was brought against the next of kin who were entitled to the estate. A delay in progressing the administration of the estate could at least in theory prejudice the surviving cohabitant making a claim. The Society also point out that since the s29 right applies only on intestacy in situations where there appears to be a valid will then no claim arises but that will may subsequently be challenged on grounds of lack of capacity, facility and circumvention or undue influence thus creating an intestacy. Where that occurs, as is almost inevitable, after the expiry of 6 months no claim will arise. The same is true where a child reduces the will on the basis of the conditio si testator sine liberis decesserit. 


The Society make no recommendation with regard to extension of the s29 rights to testate cases. It is perhaps disappointing that the Society did not seek to explore the question of what the purpose of any award is under s29. There are two schools of thought – (a) reward for past services or (b) compensation for future economic disadvantage. The system is discretionary and the courts have operated on a model (b) understanding but the SLC Report on Succession Report on Succession No 215 (2009) raises the prospect of a model (a) system. It seems that model (b) is the more appropriate.



Scottish Government consultation – Rights on Intestate Succession


The Scottish Government is presently consulting on other models for rights in succession. The proposals contained in the SLC Report did not find consensus when consulted upon previously. It seems quite generally accepted that where there are no children then the whole estate of one spouse should pass to the other on intestacy. In a situation where there are children of the deceased who are not children of the other surviving spouse then issues become much more opaque as to what public opinion is. It is also not clear whether the law of succession ought to reflect what people expect or whether there should be some element of morality built into the system.


The Government describe two alternative approaches.  The first is the ‘ Washington State’ model. Put broadly this applies what would be a similar approach to the principles contained in the Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985 in determining matrimonial property – that is property acquired during the course of the marriage but not that gifted or inherited unless it is converted into matrimonial property by use as such. Where there are dependants, the spouse takes the deceased’s share of the net community property and one half of the net separate property. The surviving spouse will take three quarters of the net separate property if there are no dependants but there is a surviving parent, or issue of a parent, of the deceased. If there are neither dependants nor a parent or natural born or adopted siblings of the deceased, the whole estate passes to the surviving spouse.


The first issue is determining what property is of what type and then has a relatively complex set of rules for distribution. It does not seem to offer any real advantage over the current prior rights/legal rights/ intestate succession which are focussed on maintaining the surviving spouse in the family home.


The second model looked at is the British Columbia model (why these two adjacent territories? ) In British Columbia, when all children are the children of both spouses, the spouse will receive the household furnishings and a preferential amount of $300,000 of the estate's value or more. The spouse has a right to purchase the family home within a set time limit. If the children of the deceased are from a prior or different relationship, the surviving spouse's preferential amount is $150,000 with the remainder being distributed to the children. Obviously the limits have to be tweaked to reflect the Scottish position in relation to housing values and household wealth.


Is this really very different from the Scottish model?


So if you have a view you can go online and respond to these issues or alternatively in paper copy.


The Government consultation then deals with cohabitation rights. It is accepted the period to apply should be extended to 12 months. That of course will slow down the distribution of estates where there is potential for a claim from the current six month period before the expiry of which executors are not obliged to distribute.  They discuss the SLC proposals for an arithmetic fixed share approach and whether a court application should be required. Clearly it would be if the current discretionary scheme is retained. One of the problems which again has not been addressed is the nature of cohabitation. While marriage is a status and either you are married or you are not cohabitation comprises a spectrum of arrangements from ones that are very similar to marriage to others where for example a divorcee and a widower get together and cohabit partly in one home and partly in another. Each has their own pension income.  They meet the cohabitation test but there is no obvious need. If one sells up and moves in with the other the position changes and there is potential detriment to the party who moves in. This suggests that the current model (b) approach is preferable to the model (a) one proposed by the Commission.


The Government have not ruled out at this stage applying definitions which would treat spouses and cohabitants the same.


There are additional consultation issues.


Temporary aliment.

The SLC had recommended abolition but consultees were divided. The Government now proposes limiting such claims to 6 months. But is it ever claimed in practice and if limited to six months can payment be deferred until the end of the six months as with every other debt. If so it does not appear to have any value in its retention.


Equitable Compensation

The 1964 Act had a section headed equitable compensation which did not in fact deal with equitable compensation. The 2016 Act operates to vest the fee on early termination of the liferent. The Government is consulting on whether this is sufficient to deal with the issue and that accordingly there is no need for any further legislation.  That seem to be correct.


Forfeiture and executors

The Government is consulting on whether the conviction for murder or culpable homicide should be a bar to appointment as executor.  There may be a delay in suspicion falling on the spouse and a far longer delay in conviction. So perhaps any legislation should include provision that such a conviction would disqualify the spouse from the position of executor whether appointed or not.


Data protection

Here views are sought on whether information should be redacted from Confirmation such as account numbers etc which in theory could be used to commit fraud. The counter argument is that by having public accessibility beneficiaries and family members who have no right to sight of the confirmation can obtain information to be assured as to the assets. A proposal to delay publication by 12 months is being considered.


Small estate limit

Views are sought on whether the small estate limit should be raised.


Timeshare contracts

Views are sought on problems exercising the right to withdraw from such contracts arises in practice.



General Mon, 15 Apr 2019 15:23:56 +0100
<![CDATA[Law Society Vacancies]]> /node/3056 /node/3056#comments We have received the following notice from the Law Society.

A number of Society Committees are currently looking for Convenors, Committees and Panel Members.

These are great opportunities to be involved in the Society’s work: from Education through to AML.

If you or any of your colleagues would be interested please do apply.


Member News Fri, 12 Apr 2019 14:47:05 +0100
<![CDATA[Careers within the Judiciary]]> /node/3053 /node/3053#comments We pass on the following:

The Judicial Office for Scotland is pleased to announce that it will be holding two judicial career seminars in February 2019, focusing on the upcoming sheriff and summary sheriff recruitment.
If you are wondering whether you have the experience and qualities needed to be a judicial office holder, whether this is the right next step in your career, or whether life on the bench would suit you, then these seminars will assist you in taking the next steps towards an exciting career in the judiciary.
These seminars will dispel any myths surrounding the application process and cover the following topics:
Eligibility to apply for judicial office
Application Guidance
Judicial and Personal Qualities for Judicial Office
The Selection Process

The seminars will run on the following dates:

27 February 2019 28 February

Glasgow Tribunals Centre RRS Discovery
20 York Street Dundee DD1 4XA
Discovery Quay 16:45 – 18:45
Glasgow G2 8GT
16:45 – 18:45

The seminars will include sheriff and summary sheriff guest speakers as well as speakers from the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland. Light refreshments will also be offered.

Spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. If you wish to apply for a space, please do so by emailing:

Your email should state your full name, preferred contact email address and which seminar you wish to attend.

Member News Fri, 15 Feb 2019 16:46:01 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS Christmas Party 2018]]> /node/3046 /node/3046#comments SLAS CHRISTMAS PARTY 2018

Access via link:




5.30 pm  Reception and refreshments


6.00 pm  Supper will be served


6.30 pm  Glasgow Laulu Choir


                        Adeste Fideles


                        O Holy Night


                        The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond (Finnish version)


                        Carol of the Bells


                        Silent Night – in two parts, one by the audience


                        Forest Metsa (Finnish)


                        Tonttu – a mythological Norse creature



7.00 pm   The President


8.00 pm    Carriages          



General Wed, 19 Dec 2018 11:26:27 +0000
<![CDATA[ SLAS Membership Application Forms In September Gazette]]> /node/3045 /node/3045#comments  


Some members have been puzzled on receiving SLAS membership application forms with the September Gazette. Some existing members have even re--applied to join SLAS. However, when you read the edition, you notice that it contains also an application form for admission to the SLAS TCPD programme in January 2019. The SLAS membership application form is intended for completion along with the TCPD application and can be safely be ignored by existing members. At the same time, of course, existing members can always make the application form available to those colleagues who are not yet members of SLAS. Indeed, the application form might be multiplied many times over for that purpose.


Member News Tue, 09 Oct 2018 11:54:41 +0100
<![CDATA[Beautiful Girl or Old Hag?]]> /node/3042 /node/3042#comments  

What has a beautiful girl or an old hag got to do with the regulation of the solictors’ profession.


What has a beautiful girl or an old hag got to do with the regulation of the solicitors' profession. Probably about as much as most members of the that profession. See the September edition of the Scottish Law Gazette which will definitely not provide an answer to this conundrum.



Member News Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:57:54 +0100
<![CDATA[Consumer Property Group of SLAS]]> /node/3040 /node/3040#comments A Consumer Property Group has been formed by the Scottish Law Agents Society to look at particular issues where the interest of consumers and solicitors are aligned and action required to improve the situation of both in relation to Property in Scotland.


There is wide perceived discontent of the legal practitioners with the operation of parts of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012 and the way it can adversely affect consumers and users.

Particular Areas of Concern

1) Gaps are appearing in the Land Register where ownership is likely to never be known. There is no effective mechanism to sort out these gaps for the future. Why? There has been an effective abolition of the benefits obtained by use of a non domino Dispositions. The procedures under Section 43 of the 2012 Act are far too long and are capable of frustration at the last minute because of burdensome intimation procedures and possible late challenge of these. This is not an effective way of filling in gaps in the Land Register. Most legal practitioners are simply not using them now and rely on Title (or more accurately Dispossession) Indemnity Insurance Policies which once taken out will mean the Title will never be cured for the future as any attempt will invalidate cover under the Policy. Thus the Land Register Cadastral Map will have "black holes or slivers of land" whose ownership cannot be effectively identified backed up with indemnity insurance for large numbers of Titles. Part of this problem was created by practices adopted by the Keeper under the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 and the way the Keeper dealt with "gap areas". It was part of the practice of the Keeper to ask in the then style of application form whether an applicant wished to register to the full extent of their Sasine Title or only to the possessory extent if less. Legal practitioners assumed, perhaps naively, that this would mean that when the neighbouring property came to be registered it would receive the benefit of the “disclaimed” area and the Keeper would automatically include it in the Title to the neighbouring property. That has not happened and is not happening. It would have been far more sensible to show the full extent in every case which would lead to the applicant having Title to that gap area occupied by a neighbour and the applicant could convey it to the neighbour if agreement was reached. Resolution One method of resolving this position would be to reintroduce a non domino Dispositions. However this time the period of prescription would be 20 years and not 10 years. There is some legal basis for this in that such a system has been recommended by the Scottish Law Commission to be included in the proposed reform of moveable property law such that if moveable property has been possessed for over 20 years it can become ownership. This would be consistent with a change to the heritable property position proposed above. Also 20 years is the recognised long negative period of prescription cutting off rights (whether there has been intimation or not) and so a balance in terms of the Human Rights Act may be struck. This particular solution would require amendment of the 2012 Act.

2) Rejection The so called ‘one shot rule’ is built into the 2012 Act and is supposed to prevent a ranking or preference of title being preserved too long. There are 2 stages. Initial Sift - Early Rejection Of all the areas that have been a source of discontent with the Act, rejection is the largest. However I think there is now reluctant acceptance by the legal profession that "initial sift" applications may be justified and while rejection is unfortunate it will normally not be time critical. Post Sift - Late Rejection However it is a different matter where an application has been admitted by the Keeper and has passed the initial sift and thereafter some flaw that is not obvious or technical leads to a later rejection of the case, some times a year or more after the application was lodged. These are normally cases where the flaw was not apparent to the solicitor or the Keeper in the Stage 1 part of admission or rejection. It is the “late rejection” cases about which the SLAS Consumer Property Group has concerns. There is a world of difference between some obvious error at the initial sift and the more complex reasons for “late rejection”. It is unacceptable that such cases should be rejected without the opportunity of the matters being rectified (if that is possible). There is no flexibility in the present scheme for a period to allow the application to be altered. More thinking needs to be done to remedy the situation but the present position is completely unsatisfactory. There will be those who say that if there is a late rejection it is all the Solicitors fault and owners affected can claim on their indemnity insurance but we do not believe that is a consumer answer. At present a Solicitor will have to carry the can for this and that will be the case if some intervening event like bankruptcy, receivership, sale on or grant of a security etc has taken place and the property lost. Some may argue therefore that the solicitors with the failed application will provide redress. However it is not proper redress as far as consumers are concerned. Consumers want the “mud” i.e. the house and not “compensation” for not getting it. The problem with the present position is that if there is a late rejection and some act intervenes then the consumer will not receive the Title to the "mud" or the house that he should obtain. This system is wrong. It requires to be corrected so that the effect of late rejection is proportionate and the consumer does not lose the house or mud. This requires amendment of the 2012 Act. Another solution might be to have a statutory deemed acceptance by the Keeper if a case has not been rejected within say 1 or 3 months.


1. Engage with the Scottish Government to persuade the Scottish Ministers that action is required in the interest of consumers to improve the present system of land registration in Scotland as it is presently not working in favour of consumers and to warn them that the completion of a cadastral map of every part of Scotland is doomed leaving multiple gap areas with unidentified owners.

2. Engage with the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland in meaningful dialogue with regard to these areas of discontent. To explore what policies and procedures under existing legislation could be developed to meet or alleviate these concerns and if not to pursue satisfactory amendments of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012.

3. Engage with other Legal Professional organisations and Solicitors to achieve these objectives.


General Wed, 05 Sep 2018 08:45:11 +0100
<![CDATA[Minutes for the Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Law Agents Society 2018 ]]> /node/3034 /node/3034#comments Minutes for The Annual General Meeting of the Scottish  Law Agents Society 2018

 5:30pm on 21st June 2018  at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow.


1.         Sederunt and apologies:-


            A Sederunt was taken of the members present and a quorum was confirmed..


Apologies were received from Rod Maclean, Ken Swinton, Ian McLeod, James Hotchkiss,


2.         Minutes of AGM 2017 had been published in the Gazette of June/July 2017 and were unanimously approved by acclamation with no contrary voices.


3.         The Society’s Accounts as previously approved by the office bearers were presented to the meeting and duly noted and meeting confirmed the appointment of Messrs Geoghegans of Edinburgh as independent examiners. The President, Fiona Dalton went on to present the annual report to 31st December 2017 as follows:-


Scottish Law Agents Society




For the year ended 31st December 2017



2017 was the 130th year of business for the Society and the usual wide range of business was carried out. Council meetings were convened each calendar month with the exception of January when a meeting was convened of the President’s Committee and July when people are supposed to be on holiday but, this year, when a Presidents Committee meeting was convened also.  A full complement of quarterly Scottish Gazettes was issued along with the Annual Memorandum Book. However, due to various pressures, the December 2017 edition was not issued until January 2018. The Scottish Solicitors Benevolent Fund meetings were convened in May and November leading to about 10 awards in each case and a number of awards were also made through the Tod Foundation.


Council Meetings


These were generally convened at 166 Buchanan Street Glasgow but the May and November meetings were convened at the Law Society offices in Edinburgh by reason of the convenience of carrying out the SSBF meetings jointly with the Law Society on the same day. In addition, The June meeting was held at the Royal Faculty of Procurators at Nelson Mandela place for convenience along with the Annual General Meeting and the December meeting was also held at Nelson Mandela Place for convenience along with the Christmas party. The October meeting was held in Dumfries and this was a convivial function which was extended to include some local non council members which added to the value of what is a meeting of a national body.









Scottish Law Gazette.


The topics which were addressed in the Gazette during 2016 included land registration problems with reference to the Cadastral map, the presumption of regularity, the amendment of pleadings after proof on appeal, alternative business structures in 2017, gratuitous alienation and the CML Handbook, an item on the Law of Rugby, Brexit and the separation of powers, the availability of heritable securities in 3D, demolition orders, and invocation to kill all the lawyers, reflections on a lifetime in country practice, an AML update, the creation of an effective trust, employment tribunal fees, the law of midges, incapax executors, the court fees consultation, the Independent Review of Regulation of Legal Services and Scottish Law commission publications. Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish four editions of the Gazette each year and all members are requested to give urgent consideration to the submission of matters that may be of assistance or interest to their colleagues in the profession. In this world of electronic and fake news the Gazette remains as an indelible record of both the contributions not to mention the very existence of individual members and of our Society as well as of key events in our professional undertaking and members are urged to keep this invaluable organ alive and kicking because it can be seen sometimes to be struggling.


Memorandum Book


Production in paper format continues as reflects the will of the majority of the membership. The now current format of the memorandum book is more of a legal update than a repository of reference wisdom.  Previous year’s appeals for input from the membership as to the future contents, function and design of the memorandum book has met with an extremely muted response and Council has to carry forward these issues for further discussion and consideration in the future. Is that future electronic? Will there be a memorandum book at all? These are some of the questions


           Meeting with Law Society of Scotland and Registers of Scotland, 6th March 2017.


Perhaps the most significant event during 2017 was our meeting with the Law Society of Scotland and the Keeper of Registers of Scotland, at Edinburgh, on 6th March 2017.  This meeting was called on receipt of our enquiries to the Law Society and to Registers of Scotland as to whether there were significant problems arising in the registration of titles following the operation of the 2012 Act and the imposition of the Cadastral Map.  Our information from our own membership indicated that there was a significant problem, particularly with regard to the rejection from registration of certain property rights that were already recorded in the Register of Sasines or registered in the former Land Register.  Neither the Law Society nor the Keeper accepted that there were a significant number of any such problems but we were cordially invited to submit individual cases for consideration.  However, our own experience was that members, while, quite willing to advise that there were problems in general, did not think it worthwhile submitting individual complaints to our own Society.  As a result, we had very few individual cases to look at.  (See evidence of this reluctance at the report below from the October meeting in Dumfries)  However, our Society’s policy remained that the creation of a Cadastral Map should be separated from the essential function of the Land Register to provide a record of land ownership and access to real proprietary rights.  (It transpired that during 2018 that there are in fact about forty thousand applications for registration currently in a abeyance at the Lend Register and the new Keeper has published an apology for the state of affairs.)


            The October Meeting at Dumfries


There was a reasonable turn out of Council members and also some local representation and also a number of apologies from local solicitors who indicated interest in the meeting but were unable to attend due to business commitments.


This meeting addressed the current problems of land registration arising, at least, in part, from the Land Register having extended its function from registration of title to include the formation of a Cadastral map which latter objective appeared to bring about delays and rejections of applications. The meeting confirmed Council’s findings that, while solicitors were  prepared to complain about these things at face to face meetings, they were generally unwilling to register their difficulties with SLAS. One member was kind enough to volunteer that he simply could not face filling in the SLAS enquiry form. This meeting addressed also the problems arising from General Data Protection Regulation and from the prospect of Alternative Business Structures which latter topic had now brought a state of uncertainty to the profession and the public for about the past seven years. Members whose accounts were in perfect order were nevertheless having difficulties with Guarantee Committee inspections from the Law Society, there was difficulty in reconciling the operation of English and other foreign companies in Scotland with what was understood to be a prohibition or at least a discouragement of Scottish solicitors sharing fees with other persons and businesses.

There was concern about a number of litigations running between the Law Society and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in which Scottish solicitors were paying for both sides of multiple actions. There was concern also about the extent to which conveyancing practice was now subject to regulation by CML rather than by the Law Society of Scotland. The meeting confirmed Council’s policy to promote a general meeting prior to the next AGM of the Law Society with a view to raising some of these concerns at that AGM





 A reflection upon the year of 2017  reveals that the undertaking and even the very existence of the solicitors’ profession and the essential service that it provides to the Scottish public are under threat from, at least, the prospect of alternative business structures and the unfolding problems of land registration. However, neither of these issues is recognised as a problem at the  Law Society.  Nearer to home, there is little purpose in the Scottish Law Agents Society becoming vexed about these issues if there is no support from the wider profession or even from its own membership.   That, perhaps, is the first issue which the new Council should address even to the exclusion of other issues.


An extended version of this report statement shall be issued in the June 2018 Gazette which will probably be published in early July.


4.         .Election of office bearers and Council members.


            The secretary advised the meeting that the following nominations had been duly proposed and seconded in terms of the constitution and, there being no opposition or other nominations, office bearers and Council members were duly confirmed.


            SLAS Council 2017 - 2018


Members of Council::-










Ian C Ferguson


James Hotchkiss




David P H MacLennan


Dorothy McGhie




MARY B Pirie






Andrew Stevenson


Kenneth W Swinton


Catriona Walker 


5.         Discussion topics


  1. Alternative Business Structures


The meeting was satisfied that the Society’s position had been stated clearly and accurately in recent papers including the submission to the Scottish Government’s  Independence Review in to the provision of legal services.  Meeting agreed that we should now simply keep a watching brief on further developments and, in particular,  to keep under review  the influence in Scotland of foreign jurisdictions. 


Meeting was uncertain whether the existing regime of ABS under the 2010 ACT was likely to be revived or whether the Scottish Government would produce a new statutory regime.  In the latter case, the Society would have to decide whether to challenge that new regime.


  1. Proxy voting at Law Society meetings.


Again, the meeting agreed that the Society’s position was properly stated in the Secretary’s speech to the AGM of the Law Society. And that this item should be kept on the Agenda with the recommendation that the new Council should renew this application to the Law Society and seek to have the matter raised as a Motion at the Law Society AGM of 2019. 



  1.  Land Registration Problems


Secretary advised the meeting that there had been virtually no response from the membership to repeated enquiries for specific examples of difficulties arising.  Ian Ferguson suggested to the meeting that we should proceed with this issue as being a consumer issue and a matter of importance to the membership and the wider public.  If neither the Law Society nor the Keeper will undertake a risk assessment then we could carry out our own risk assessment and consider submitting a Freedom of Information request to the Keeper for details of the numbers of applications for registration rejected even after the Sift.  Meeting enquired whether this information might be already available.  The meeting was particularly concerned about the prejudice to lenders’ interests when a transaction was completed, loan money applied, title application complete and not rejected at Sift but then, at a later date, the title is rejected.  Secretary suggested that this is a complete departure from the traditional and established function of the Keeper i.e., to record applications for registration of title and thus complete the real right of ownership.

.  Perhaps an enquiry could be directed to the OFT. Meeting was reminded  that current  news appeared regularly on SLN and there was also AAM Legal; matters and items could be raised on both of these channels.  We should seek, for example, that the date of acknowledgement should be the date of registration of title and therefore of the creation of the real right of ownership.  The Keeper should be required to distinguish between subtle, technical failures as opposed to blatant mistakes in applications.  The title application might be suspended for sixty days during which any corrections can be made and the title registered from the commencement of that period.


(d)  The meeting considered the standing of A Non Domino applications which have now been abolished and wonders whether these might be reinstated subject to a period of 20 years of title and possession.  Otherwise, it was uncertain how holes in the title might be filled.


(e)  Conversion of Sasines to Land Register.


      This was now operating without reference to the immediate owners and therefore without any checking on their behalf as to whether their new titles were consistent with the previous title.  It is possible to check your title free through Scotlis. If such checks are not carried out in advance of sales of the properties then there might be unexpected and possibly fatal problems at the time of sale.










  166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 2LW

  Tel: 0141 352 4522  Fax: 0141 353 3819


  DX GW 266 Glasgow 




The Scottish Law Gazette

(Published Quarterly – March, June, September & December)



  62 Strathern Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee DD5 1PH

  Tel: 01382 308413   Fax: 01382 308400








Member News Tue, 10 Jul 2018 14:22:07 +0100
<![CDATA[More Bureaucratic Oppression ]]> /node/3032 /node/3032#comments AML Registration at Law.Soc.

It was easy enough, after a few days of interrupting our usual hectic business schedule, to obtain Disclosure Scotland documents for each of the partners in this firm. However, getting together over the Law Society Registration process took another few days and then pinned us down for longer than we anticipated. Eventually, however, we got the job done and, hopefully, that is the name of our firm removed from the “Current Outstanding List” currently held by the Law Society.

My recommendation to all members is to get the job done, just as quickly as possible. We should then re-group at a later date to find out whether anything can be done about the current storm of bureaucratic oppression which threatens to destroy our business viability.

In order to take on this process you should click on this link

General Mon, 04 Jun 2018 14:16:37 +0100
<![CDATA[Law Society AGM 2018. Any Comments? ]]> /node/3031 /node/3031#comments You might have noticed from the agenda for the Law Society AGM on Thursday 31st May 2018 at 5.30pm at the Law Society offices at 144 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8EX, not far up from Haymarket Railway Station.

I have attached the Agenda for the AGM below and you can decide for yourself whether this agenda is in touch with the issues which currently face the profession. SLAS has been invited to make a statement about the current issues of Alternative Business Structures (ABS) and the abolition of proxies from most issues. However, these two topics have the common denominator of the general level of connection or disconnection between the Law Society and the High Street practitioners. If any member would like to provide me with comments to include in my remarks then please email to or add a comment to this article.

If you add a comment, the comment will not appear immediately as, for security, decency etc., it has to be authorised at the Secretary’s office for publication.

Please let me have your thoughts. The agenda is as follows:


Order of formal business


1.            Approval of the Minute of the Annual General Meeting held on 27 May 2017

                and the Minute of the Special General Meeting of 25 January 2018.


2.            The President’s Address.


3.            The adoption of the reports from the Treasurer; the Client Protection Fund Convener; the Audit Committee Convener; the In-house Lawyers’ Committee Convener; and the Convener of the Scottish Solicitors’ Benevolent Fund (SSBF) for 2016/2017.  - These reports are available to read on


4a.          The approval of the Annual Report and Accounts of the Society; the Client-Protection Fund and the SSBF for 2016/2017.


4b.          The appointment of the Auditors to the Society; the Client Protection Fund; and the SSBF for 2017/2018.


- These annual reports and accounts are available to read on


5.            Chief Executive’s Report


Presentation by the Chief Executive on the Society’s current operating performance and five year strategy 2015/2020.







6.            Practising Certificate fee for 2018/2019 - Resolution number 1


                Resolution from the Council on the Practising Certificate Fee for 2018/2019


“That, as from 1 November 2018, the Annual Subscription held by each member of the Society holding a Practising Certificate will be £565”


Topics for discussion


7.       The Council has agreed that Michael Sheridan, Solicitor, Glasgow can raise at      

           this meeting the topics of Alternative Business Structures and Proxy voting for


Press Releases Mon, 21 May 2018 14:29:46 +0100
<![CDATA[Professor Joe Thomson FRSE 1948 - 2018]]> /node/3030 /node/3030#comments The Society was very sorry to hear of the passing of Joe Thomson during the weekend and offers condolences to Joe’s wife, Annie. Apart from Joe’s academic, teaching and writing achievements across the spectrum of the academic and practical operation and development of Scots Law Joe also found time to make a valuable contribution to our own Gazette. Many tributes will worthily be paid to Joe but if there is one underlying quality that very many people recognised and were grateful for it is the way in which Joe tackled the complexities which he addressed and explained them in ways which enabled lesser mortals to have a better understanding.


General Tue, 15 May 2018 14:08:54 +0100
<![CDATA[Independent Review of Regulation of Legal Services - March 2018]]> /node/3025 /node/3025#comments  

Independent Review  of Regulation of Legal Services -  March 2018

This month of March 2018 brings us  a late opportunity to make a submission to the Scottish government's current Independent Review of the Regulation of Legal Services in Scotland. A few weeks ago that Review issued a call for evidence to be submitted by 30th March 2018. We have therefore hastily convened a general meeting in Glasgow and have discussed matters as fully as we could in the time available and have now produced the undernoted response to the call for evidence.  You will recollect that developments took place in England about 14 years ago for the deregulation of legal practices permitting the sale of shares in these practices in the commercial market. The vigorous rejection of that notion in Scotland was led by the President and Council of the Law Society of Scotland (CLSS}. That was until 2008 when that policy was turned on its head so that CLSS came to support  an even more liberal sell off than was permitted in England. This became known as Alternative Business Structures  (ABS). It then transpired that  the equity  partners of certain large legal firms which were in financial difficulty had seen the opportunity to hugely increase their personal returns by selling off the firms to banks and other commercial investors. The Scottish Government has shown clear misgivings about this policy and has set up a review into the future regulation of legal services in Scotland .  Now the Scottish public has until the end of this month to write to the Independent Review into Scottish Legal Services, GW10, St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG to explain why Scottish legal firms should not be made saleable, in whole or in part, outwith the Scottish legal profession .

We propose to submit this response to the Independent Review on Thursday 29 March 2018 and would be happy to receive any input thereon from the membership in the meantime.







The Scottish Law Agents Society (SLAS) was formed by Royal Charter of Queen Victoria in 1884 and is the oldest, largest and, indeed the only voluntary national society for solicitors in Scotland.  The existence of this Society is proof of the collegiate and independent nature of the Scottish legal profession.  The Society is wholly owned by the profession with no public or statutory input and exists to promote the interests of the legal profession and to promote the strength and independence of that profession in order to make it better able to serve the interests of the public and the rule of law.   The main objective of this Society was the formation of a statutory  body so that standards of training and conduct could be made compulsory in order to provide the public  with a reliable service and protection.  This object appeared to have been achieved with  the formation of the Law Society of Scotland in 1949, as currently  governed by the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1949. However, members of SLAS were aware that the statutory body would not be under the control of the profession  and SLAS was retained mainly for professional representative purposes. 

SLAS Council meets monthly, usually in Glasgow or Edinburgh but, in order to help keep in touch with the membership, meets also in various parts of Scotland so that, in the past three years, meetings have been held also in Perth, Oban, Inverness, Wick and Dumfries.

The Society’s Council has instructed a response to the above review in the following terms.

1 Regulatory System

Who is being regulated ?     It appears to be obvious that it is solicitors who are being regulated. However, that may not strictly be the case. This is because the word solicitor now has a multitude of meanings. It includes solicitors who carry out in exchange for financial remuneration  some or other of the reserved  areas  of work identified in the  Solicitors (Act) 1980 and  whom we might refer to as reserved work (RW) solicitors.  That  work may  be   summed up as acting  for  clients in the Courts and also in   the purchase and sale of land and buildings.   A  substantial majority of solicitors, however,  do not in fact carry out that type of work  or, if they do, they do not receive financial remuneration from clients.   We  might refer to the latter category as in house  solicitors. These include the many hundreds and probably  thousands of solicitors who are employed by local authorities  and do not work for clients nor for professional remuneration related to services provided in the reserved areas but rather for salaries as public employees. While these solicitors do not require practising certificates  from  the Law Society  to enable them to carry out their employment, nevertheless, it is normal for them to obtain practising certificates, presumably for the status of solicitor which goes with the holding  of a practising certificate. Likewise, the hundreds and possibly thousands of solicitors employed by the Crown  Prosecution Service and other government agencies   have no need of practising certificates  from the Law Society.   In house  solicitors, therefore, have no clients  in the normal sense  and do not hold clients money and  are only marginally affected by the regulatory system for solicitors.  The vast majority of these solicitors could give up their practising  certificates and carry on with their work relatively undisturbed and might be regarded as having less at stake in the regulatory regime.   RW  solicitors, on the other hand enjoy the legal monopoly of undertaking work in the reserved areas  in consideration of professional remuneration paid to them by their clients and, in exchange for that monopoly,  are subject to the full gamut of the regulatory system which is now under consideration.  A whole barrage of accounts rules compel solicitors not only to properly account to clients for every penny entrusted to the solicitor, but also, policeman like, to carry out checks as to where that money came from, to earn appropriate interest for the client  on these funds and not to hold funds outwith certain time limits. Other regulations make solicitors liable to repay fees to clients and to pay compensation in addition in circumstances where no legal wrong has been done but where a non-judicial finding has been made that the service provided was not good enough. These fees are then repayable  notwithstanding that up to about 80% of them may already have been applied to support costs such as staff wages etc  as well as VAT and income tax  and are therefore not refunds of fees but simple fines upon  a solicitor who may well have completed his undertaking towards the client in a legal sense  but whose service  has been  deemed not to have been good enough.   Other regulations extinguish solicitors’ entitlement to remuneration for legally aided work years earlier then would apply to other businesses.  Other regulations make solicitors liable for professional misconduct and possible striking off and loss of livelihood if they omit issue clients with written terms and conditions of engagement. None of these constraints apply to in house  solicitors.

The number of solicitors in Scotland probably exceeds eleven thousand but the number of RW solicitors who are materially affected by the regulatory regime under review is unlikely to be any more than a third of that number.

It is important to understand from the outset who stands to be governed by the regulatory regime, how many practitioners are included and what facilities are available to ascertain the representative views of those practitioners. For example a solicitor depute procurator fiscal may have no objection to a solicitor having an obligation to report the illegal financial activities of a client but that depute will never be subject to that responsibility or to the  risk to his person and his family that may arise when that client comes to be prosecuted and learns of the source of that prosecution.  Because of the relatively small number of RW  solicitors within the overall category of solicitors there is a danger that their  views may be diluted by the views of the overall category, notwithstanding that it is the RW solicitors who stand mainly to be affected the regulatory regime under review.  While the Law Society consists of the whole body of solicitors, SLAS membership is concentrated among the RW fraternity and is therefore much more representative of the views of the solicitors who stand to be affected by the regulatory regime.  This is  quite apart from he circumstances narrated below at Appendix 1 paragaph 4 which indicate that the Law Society policy toward ABS in particular  may have been influenced by the interests of the tiny minority of equity owners from large firms in financial distress, rather than by the interests and views of the general body of the solicitor profession or of the RW solicitors in particular.


The Review should ascertain which and how many solicitors will be governed by the regulatory regime which is under review and should seek confirmation from the Law Society of Scotland as to the extent to which and the basis upon which the input of that Society should be taken as representative of the solicitors likely to be affected by that regime and as having the confidence of those solicitors.


2.Activities undertaken.  

 There was formerly a professional  requirement or at least an expectation  that the main work undertaken by  solicitors  was or would be  the provision of legal services.  In recent times, that requirement appears to have become very much more relaxed so that in  a recent case of insolvency, it transpired that the law firm in question had  substantial  undertakings in fund management and letting services  quite apart from the provision of legal services. Whether or not that structure had any causal connection to the insolvency of the business is perhaps a matter into which enquiry should be made with reference to the public documentation available including the insolvency practitioner’s report .  This is  particularly the case because of the significant number of substantial  Scottish  law firms which have either gone into insolvency or been acquired in circumstances of financial distress  by foreign entities in recent years – events which  were extremely rarer and exceptional up until about 10 years ago when the whole issue of Alternative Business Structures first  emerged in Scotland. While law practices cannot claim any dispensation against insolvency it is, nevertheless, a state which impacts upon a wide range of members of the public as well as the owners and employees who would be adversely affected by any business insolvency.  In law firms clients have entrusted their confidential information as well as their money  and their important papers and the insolvency process transfers those  monies and confidences and papers to an insolvency practitioner in whom the client has never reposed his trust and who is unlikely to deliver any papers or other items or provide any assistance until the insolvency process has been either completed or at least substantially so. There is therefore a public interest against the insolvent winding up of legal practices which is perhaps not the case with most other businesses.  For whatever reason, the uncontrolled insolvency of law firms, in Scotland at least, was a rarity prior to the moves towards ABS.   If the failure of these Scottish law firms has been attributable to their substantial undertakings of non-legal services then some  consideration should be given to the regulatory control of the activities undertaken by solicitors firms and the restriction of non legal services.

Recommendation.  The Review should seek to ascertain the amount of the loss sustained by the Scottish economy  including the reduction of tax receipts  during the past eight years as a result of solicitor firm  becoming the subject of acquisition by English and other foreign entities.  In order to minimise the occasions of insolvency in the legal industry consideration should be given to the restriction of services that might be provided by solicitors operating in the reserves areas.


 and also what has been  the effect upon the Scottish economy of the reduction of the Scottish owned legal services sector during the past 8  years and what might the effect  of the whole Scottish legal sector. The findings of such enquiries  might  instruct future regulation of the activities undertaken by solicitors firms.


3. Making Complaints.

  An obvious advantage of maintaining a complaints and discipline  system within the profession is that members of the profession are best placed to understand the factual backgrounds of complaints and the extent to which the dissatisfaction of a client is due to adverse legal circumstances or to the actings of the client himself  or  of other persons  and to what  extent it is due to shortcomings on  the part of the practitioner. The corresponding disadvantage is that members of the profession may either be, or be seen to be, unduly sympathetic towards each other.  The latter disadvantage might be, or be seen to be, exacerbated by the fact that members of the legal profession in Scotland are not only  members of the same profession but are quite likely either to know each other or, at least, to know of each other. Against that, in previous years when complaints and discipline were  maintained  within the profession, it was certainly not seen by the profession to be unduly lenient. Rather, there was seen to be an element of severity in the application of discipline arising from, among other causes,  a perceived  desire to demonstrate to the public the maintenance of the very highest of standards. On more than one occasion there was successful resort to the courts to remedy the excesses of the discipline inflicted by the professional body upon its own members,  not that any remedy, judicial or otherwise, can undo the damage done in these circumstances.  There is always, of course,  an external complaints system available to the public in as much as solicitors are always liable in damages  for breach of contract in respect of failure to deliver legal services of a reasonable standard.  That is likely to be seen as a much less generous provision for dissatisfied clients than the current arrangements which enable clients, dissatisfied otherwise, a cost and  risk-free opportunity to make a complaint which might well result in a financial payout whether or not the complaint was justified. The solicitor, on the other hand, has no realistic appeal against what  he might see to be an unjustified award because of the potentially ruinous expense of taking it to the Inner House for determination. The complaining client is subject to no such risk.  Indeed, there are as yet unconfirmed reports of clients writing spurious letters direct to the Solicitors Disciplined tribunal (SDT) seeking compensation payments from solicitors. The Review might therefore consider obtaining information from SLCC and the Law Society and the SDT as to the frequency and extent of spurious complaints  containing statements which can be proven to be untruthful  and the extent to which there is any disincentive for the making of such complaints. Under the current regime, members solicitors are  losers as soon as a complaint is made whether or not there  is any justification in it. This is because of the immediate resources which have to be applied in order to deal with the requirements of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.  As a result, many solicitors are inclined to offer a  payment in order to avoid proceedings which fall to be determined outwith the profession and against the outcome of which there is no realistic  right of appeal. It cannot be in the wider interests of the public that the legal profession is burdened  in this way because, eventually, these losses and expenses must find a way through to the public whose instructions are the main or only source of  finance for  the legal profession. There is one other element which perhaps distinguishes the legal profession from other service providers.  Every  principal solicitor contributes to the Guarantee Fund /Client Protection Fund so that clients are absolutely protected against theft or other dishonest activity by solicitors or their staff. Also, every principal solicitor contributes to a professional indemnity fund which compensates clients for loss occasioned by the professional negligence of solicitors. These funds operate not only to compensate clients of solicitors but the operate also to supervise and support solicitors in the development of practices which minimise the risks incurred by these funds.

Also, when the question arose of setting up a complaints body outwith the Law Society  the then Scottish government set a number of targets to be met by the Law Society over a five-year period in order to justify the retention by the Law Society of complaint handling. The Law Society met or exceeded all of these targets and there is no reason to suppose that the profession is unable to operate a fair and efficient complaints system.


 Also, a significant disadvantage of operating a complaints and discipline system out with the profession is that this calls for the creation and maintenance of a highly specialised, independent agency. It is for the Review to study the circumstances and make its determination but SLAS  members are of the view that the external agency, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. has, since its inception under the  Legal Aid and Legal Profession (Scotland) Act 2007  significantly changed its character without any legislative authority. While the SLCC had the character initially of an independent arbiter in disputes between solicitors and  complaining clients it appears to have acquired a character more of a consumers’ champion which, for example, publishes statistics of the amount of money recovered from solicitors

Recommendation-   Consideration be given to the operation of a clients complaints system  to be operated within the Law Society  to include  lay input to the determination of complaints that cannot be resolved at  reporter level and also a sift to identify complaints appropriate for  the requirement of a means tested  deposit refundable according to the determination of the complaint.


4. Structure of Providers.

This Society, together with the Law Society of Scotland until about 2007 and together also with the majority of western legal systems has opposed the authorisation of Alternative Business Structures (ABS) since the concept was first mooted from about 2004.  A separate notice setting out these objections is attached to this document as Appendix 1.

Recommendations – those provisions of the  Legal Services   (Scotland) act 2010 which authorise the institution of Alternative Business Structures (ABS) in Scotland which  have never come into operation  should now be repealed so that the legal system of Scotland is maintained in line with the majority of western legal systems and the ownership and control of the provision of legal services to the public is retained within the legal profession.

Further, the Review should enquire of the Law Society of Scotland

  1. How the system of Alternative Business Structures proposed in the 2010 Act can be  reconciled with the principle of the retention of the control of solicitor  firms by solicitors or how any  alternative future such structure  might be so reconciled.
  2.  To explain how the circumstances narrated in Appendix 1 paragraph 4 can be reconciled with  the objective of the Review to make recommendations which command the confidence of the solicitors profession  and  with the principle that public regulation should not be promoted in order to advance private interests.

5. Entity Regulation.

 From the outset f its existence SLAS has seen the solicitor profession as consisting of individual professionals each with their own responsibility to their clients but with supervening responsibility to the Courts and the rule of law. It would follow from that view that regulation should also focus upon the individual solicitor rather than upon the entities or partnerships in which they practise.  At the same time it is recognised that many, if not most solicitors regard themselves as members of individual firms more so than as members of the Law Society or of SLAS or even of the solicitor profession.   A  firm may employ many solicitors who work to strict methods and targets set by the firm and who have little contact with clients and of whom the firm has no expectations as to control of money laundering  procedures and such like.  It is attractive in such cases to focus regulation upon the firm as a whole rather than upon individual solicitors who have little opportunity to control their compliance or otherwise with regulations. The SLAS  view is that the trend away from individual professionalism is regrettable and contrary to the public interest in a recognisable profession of responsible individual solicitors.  However, rather than move the focus from individual to entity regulation, consideration should be given to a  focus upon the  individual solicitors who are responsible for the proper delivery of legal services, namely, the equity owning partners in the firm who are accustomed to the joint and several liability which such partnership entails.   These are the practitioners who  stand to benefit from economising  on compliance with regulatory requirements. While these partners have decided to entrust their anti-money laundering to one individual partner or even to a non partner practice manager, nevertheless, it remains the professional responsibility of each such partner to ensure that their services, including the services of their employees, solicitor and otherwise,  are properly compliant with the relevant regulations.  Other solicitors in the firm might not be responsible for breaches of regulations carried on the instructions of the equity partners but would remain liable for their own individual actions if these were carried out in the absence of or against the instructions of the equity partners. At the same time SLAS has to recognise that it has little experience in the drawing of regulatory procedures but offers these comments as their perceived solution to the dilemma of maintaining professional responsibility in the modern context of a firm dominated profession.

Recommendation – The regulation of solicitors be maintained on an individual basis and with equity owning partners in firms having joint and several responsibility for compliance with regulations and with employed solicitors having responsibility for their own actions only.


6. Legal Education and Training.    

SLAS, since its formation in 1884, has been concerned with the provision of legal education and training. An early objective of the voluntary Society was the formation of a compulsory body so that the proper education and training of future solicitors could be assured. In due course, that compulsory body, the Law Society of Scotland was created by statute with responsibility for legal education and training. However, the responsibility for legal education appears to have been delegated to the university sector and the responsibility for practical  training to a combination of the universities and various other bodies. SLAS is currently involved in the delivery of the post university, compulsory programme undertaken by trainee solicitors. Comparisons are sometimes made with the training of medical students. Whereas medical students are likely to deal with cadavers during the first term and to meet living patients before the end of the first year of study, law students have no requirement to meet clients until after the completion of a three or four year university degree followed by a one-year post university course i.e. until five years after the commencement of their studies. This can lead to a disconnection between the study and practice of law. For example, in recent years, law students have emerged from the University environment in the expectation of finding that legal services are provided both by solicitors and by non--solicitors under the 2010 Act when this has not been the case. There is, however, a major difficulty in the comparison with medical students. While the latter are trained at public expense through the National Health Service and can routinely be allocated for training purposes to NHS primary and secondary facilities, the parallel legal services are provided by individual practice units and there is no parallel facility for such placement. Individual students and practice units are, of course, free to make their own individual arrangements for placement and training but it is difficult to envisage how such a system could be made the subject of formal regulation. In order to achieve equivalence with the education and training of medical students, their may be an argument for public funding for a system of placement to be associated with the university degree and made subject to supervision by the Law Society. That, however, would meet with the further difficulty that, unlike medical students, most law students do not in fact go on to practise in the profession. There is certainly no evidence of any appetite within the SLAS membership for the introduction of such a system of education and training. Given these difficulties and the absence of any prospect of public funding it is difficult to propose a system of education and training that will be satisfactory in all respects. SLAS is broadly satisfied that there is a compulsory system and that, by and large, solicitors enter the profession in a reasonably fit condition in which the public may have confidence. Undoubtedly, that education and training could be improved upon but that appears to be a matter for the legal profession rather than for further external regulation.


Appendix 1


ABS Summary Note March 2018


1.            Professional Independence

Alternative Business Structures (ABS) are inevitably and inherently inconsistent with professional independence.  This is the position of the European jurisdictions as expressed by CCBE (the Council of the European Bars) *(see Code of Conduct below) and this was also the finding of the judiciary in Australia in litigation some years ago in which it was held that the external funding of a class action was inconsistent with professional independence and therefore with proper legal representation.  The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 (the 2010 Act) dilutes the independence of the legal profession with issues of external money and investment. This contradicts the underlying reason for which the legal profession exists, namely, in the public interest.


2.            Consequences of Deregulation -m Diminution of Scots law and jurisdiction.

                The proposed deregulation of legal practices was initiated in England prior to the disappearance of the Scottish independent banking sector following similar deregulation in the financial services market and such deregulation should not now be considered for the Scottish legal services market.  However, there is no evidence that this has ever been investigated.  How many Scottish firms have  disappeared since the 2010 act authorised their acquisition by English and other foreign firms?  What has been the loss to the Scottish economy from the incursion of English and other foreign ownership ?  What has been the consequent decrease in Scottish tax receipts ?   What changes in regulation have taken place that have enabled sale  of Scottish law firms to foreign purchasers?           It seems unwise to embark on a new era of regulation without exploring fully the adverse consequences which may have emanated from the current regime of authorising the sale of Scottish solicitor firms to foreign law firms.   It would be particularly unwise to embark upon a new regime which, by making the ownership of Scottish law firms open to general commerce, is likely to bring about the disappearance of even more  Scottish firms, the reduction of the Scottish  legal services economy and tax receipts and the diminishing operation of Scots law in  Scotland and the jurisdiction  of English and other foreign courts into  Scotland.

That diminution is likely to arise from the convenience of non-Scottish owners who have interests in other, possibly larger,  jurisdictions, in having the same contractual terms in all the jurisdictions in which they have interests.  As these contractual terms specify the legal system to be applied in cases of dispute and therefore the courts in which such disputes shall be determined this is likely to reduce and even exclude  reference to the Scottish courts the business will pass out of Scotland and out of the Scottish economy.  There will be a reduction of Scottish legal skills for want of case work and Scots law will wither on the vine for want of the  development in the courts which is necessary to keep it up to date with a changing world.


3.            Consumer Detriment

                ABS is likely to bring about serious consumer detriment.


                (a)          The ownership of legal practices by external capital is likely to increase the already unacceptable incidence of Scottish consumer contracts being subject to resolution in the English courts so that Scottish consumers have no practical means of raising or defending proceedings arising out of these contracts.   It is difficult enough to raise legal proceedings in Scotland but, in most cases, completely impracticable to do so at a distance in England or some other more remote territory. Instead of promoting this trend through ABS, we should be seeking ways to re-wind a trend which moves business and jurisdiction out of Scotland.


                (b)          The Guarantee Fund and the solicitors professional indemnity fund by virtue of which clients of Scottish solicitors are completely protected against dishonesty or negligence at the hands of the legal profession cannot possibly survive in their present form an extension to unknown categories of regulated professionals (including their staff) and wholly unknown external capital providers.  It is clear that the present joint and several liability undertaken by Scottish solicitors is based upon the training and ethics undertaken by the members of the profession and cannot possibly be extended to include persons whose training and ethics are unknown or uncertain.


                (c)           The English Experience. ABS has now been in operation in England and Wales for several years and it should be possible to gather some intelligence from the experience in that jurisdiction.  However, our own enquiry in this respect directed to the Law Society of England and Wales met with no acknowledgement or response and our more recent, similar enquiry to each of  the 52 local societies in England and Wales has met with only one acknowledgement by a law Society and one response by an ABS firm.  Our own observations tell us that one early development in England was the acquisition by a lorry transport company of a firm of barristers and the question as to how independent would be the representations of barristers from that firm when acting for driver employees of the transport company. However, that particular structure dissolved after a short period. Other observations have included a number of insolvencies amongst ABS entities and, as argued above (at Activities undertaken. there is therefore a public interest against the insolvent winding up of legal practices which is perhaps not the case with most other businesses.            


4.            Private Interests in ABS.

It is fundamental that public general legislation should not be created in order to promote the private financial interests of individual persons including, in particular private individual persons who occupy public positions of influence in relation to that legislation. The whole of the legal profession including the Law Society of Scotland was diametrically opposed to the institution of ABS from the outset in the early 2000s until 2007 when the Law Society reversed its policy without the  support of the generality of the profession and certainly without the support of the RW solicitors  but with the support of the equity partners of certain large firms at least one of which was subject to a £6m plus overdraft and whose equity owners stood not to recover their capital on retirement but also stood to benefit from a significant inflow of funds in the event of the authorisation of ABS. Despite these circumstances being public knowledge, no enquiry appears to have been made as to whether the proposed public legislation has been influenced unduly by private interests.  This issue was brought into greater focus when it was recently disclosed that, during 2015 when the Law Society of Scotland addressed to the Scottish Government a paper entitled The Case for Change in support of ABS, the then President of the Law Society was an equity owner of an old established law firm which was then in dire financial straights leading to its subsequent insolvent administration and sale   but without the benefit of the ABS which the Law Society was at the same time  diligently pursuing.  In those circumstances, any support by the Law Society for the constitution of ABS in Scotland   poses a question over the motivation for that support.   That question had also been posed previously by events in 2010 when some thousands of RW solicitors called for an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Law Society in order to register disapproval of ABS and to call upon their professional body to represent that disapproval. The Law Society duly convened the EGM but, when the President of the Society took the chair as he was entitled to do in terms of the constitution he proceeded to frustrate the objective of the meeting by refusing to take a vote and thereby to disenfranchised thousands of members of the Society.  The remit of the review includes ensuring that the regulatory framework retains the confidence of the profession and the above circumstances should lead the Review to ask the Law Society as the main proponent of ABS how the above actings of the Law Society have the confidence of the profession, particularly of those solicitors who stand to be affected by the new regulation .


5.            Legislative competence.

The Scotland Act reserves the regulation of restrictive practices to Westminster and there is no exception in relation to the provision of legal services outwith the legal profession, such as by non-solicitor owned LLSPs, will writers and Confirmation agents.


6.Control of Legal Practices.

The Law Society of Scotland in general meeting has endorsed the principle that majority ownership and control of legal practices should remain with solicitors but the Council of the Law Society has supported the 2010 Act ABS structure which does not require majority ownership or control of legal practices to remain in the hands of solicitors.  In fact, as we understand the terms of the 2010 Act, an ABS legal services provider might consist of up to 49% of artificial persons such as a registered company with limited liability or a bank or other investment company and 51%  natural persons who must be registered professionals, not necessarily solicitors.  There must, however, be at least one solicitor within the entity. Without a regulatory regime to make sense of these provisions it is difficult to envisage just what sort of provider of legal services is likely to, or might,  emerge but it is very easy to envisage an entity which would not be controlled by solicitors. If such entities are to be in control of clients’ monies or clients confidential information  then much of the purpose of having a legal profession would appear to be defeated.

7. The analogy with the banking sector.   After  many decades and even centuries of nurturing a strong and internationally respected Scottish banking system, the regulation of the activities undertaken by Scottish banks was relaxed in the late 20th century followed in the early 21st-century by the collapse and disappearance of the whole  Scottish banking sector. That is a circumstance which might be regarded as counter to any proposal to open the ownership and control of the provision of legal services to the commercial market..


2.1          Independence

2.1.1      The many duties to which a lawyer is subject require the lawyer’s absolute independence, free from all other influence, especially such as may arise from his or her personal interests or external pressure.  Such independence is as necessary to trust in the process of justice as the impartiality of the judge.  A lawyer must therefore avoid any impairment of his or her independence and be careful not to compromise his or her professional standards in order to please the client, the court or third parties. …..

2.3          Confidentiality

………………….The lawyer’s obligation of confidentiality serves the interest of the administration of justice as well as the interest of the client.  It is therefore entitled to special protection by the State.


M Sheridan



Footnote. When interest emerged in the external ownership of legal practices, a similar interest in the commercial ownership of GP services emerged also.  However, the Public Health etc (Scotland) Bill was hastily amended effectively making it impossible for commercial companies to be involved in operating doctors’ practices in Scotland.  Instead, health boards will only be able to enter into contracts with individual GPs or with partnerships of qualified health professionals including at least one qualified doctor.  The question arises as to whether the provision of access to justice is more closely to be equated with the provision of public health or with the marketing of consumer products.  The as yet inoperative provisions of the 2010 Act  point in the direction of the latter.

Press Releases Mon, 26 Mar 2018 12:16:41 +0100
<![CDATA[Alternative Business Structures (ABS)]]> /node/3023 /node/3023#comments The link to the Independent Review of Legal Services in Scotland is shown below this paragraph however, in the short time available (only until 31 March 2018) it is probably not practicable to address the whole of the review enquiry. The crucial issue is Alternative Business Structures (ABS) and you should write direct to the Independent Review into Scottish Legal Services, GW 10, St Andrew's House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG with your own views as to whether or not Scottish legal firms should be made saleable on the commercial market.

Since time immemorial the solicitors’ profession in Scotland has been vigourously independent and that independence was maintained as a matter of course by the regulatory body, the Law Society of Scotland, from its creation in 1949 that independence was protected by various rules including the prohibition of the sharing of fees with non--solicitors and even the prohibition of sharing front doors with non--solicitors.

It was therefore only to be expected that, when the Clementi proposals were first mooted in England and Wales in 2004, that these would be rejected out of hand in Scotland, as they were, under the leadership of the Law Society of Scotland. However, unbeknown to the profession at large and the general public in Scotland, other circumstances where in play. Around 2008, a number of the larger firms in Scotland were confronted with balance sheet problems which threatened the recovery by many of the equity partners of their capital. Realisation dawned that, by turning the law firms into saleable commodities via ABS, these partners would receive their capital and the law firms themselves could spend the rest of their existences servicing the investors.

Then, in 2008, the Law Society of Scotland changed its policy and came out in favour of ABS in Scotland. This was so unexpected that much of the legal profession was caught sleeping on the job and the principle of ABS was accepted at the Law Society AGM in 2008. Thereafter, when this development dawned on the profession, fierce opposition against ABS arose around Scotland. An EGM was convened at the Law Society at which several thousand votes against ABS were raised. However, the then President of the Law Society solved the problem of democracy by dint of refusing to take a vote, despite having convened the EGM at the request of the membership, in terms of the constitution.

Eventually, a form of ABS was passed in 2010 by the Scottish parliament but, in such terms that it was impossible to frame coherent regulations to bring the legislation into effect. Now,  the Scottish government has convened a consultation directed at a very limited range of correspondents and in terms clearly predicated upon an outcome in favour of ABS in Scotland. Sadly, any future authorisation of ABS in Scotland shall be too late to save the lage Scottish firms referred to above most of which have now been taken over by non-Scottish firms.. It is not clear what is now the rationale for ABS in Scotland. It was interesting to note, however, that the President of the Law Society of Scotland in June 2015 when the Law Society was promoting ABS was, himself, the proprietor of a law firm which was in serious financial difficulty and has now gone into administration.

The Scottish Law Agents Society has opposed ABS consistently since it awoketo the change in Law Society policy which took place in 2008 and continues that opposition to this day. The Scottish Law Agents Society, unsurprisingly, has not been asked for a view in the current consultation. It Is unclear whether any enquiry has been made around England and Wales as to the Consequences of ABS which was authorised in England and Wales in Terms of the Legal Services Act 2007.

At the last minute, however, a sort of last chance saloon has opened and the Independent Review has issued a general invitation to the public to submit evidence to the review. The Scottish Law Agents Society recommends that the public accepts that invitation and explains to the Independent Review that ABS is a huge mistake which threatens the integrity of the Scottish legal system as a vital element in the identity of the Scottish nation.

General Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:33:41 +0000
<![CDATA[General Meeting 6th March 2018 from 5.30pm at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow ]]> /node/3022 /node/3022#comments General Meeting 6th March 2018 from 5.30pm at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow 

 This is to confirm that the above meeting will be called as arranged.  Most travel facilities appear to be back in place and we have received a very helpful communication from the Law Society Executive which enables the scope of the meeting to be foreshortened significantly.  All members of the Law Society of Scotland and all members of the Scottish Law Agents Society are invited to this meeting.  The agenda can be found at

Press Releases Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:52:26 +0000
<![CDATA[SLAS OPEN PROXY FORM - 6th March ]]> /node/3021 /node/3021#comments SCOTTISH LAW AGENTS SOCIETY




I, (NAME -BLOCK CAPITALS) ……………………………………………………………


(Firm etc)………………………………………………………




A Member of the Scottish Law Agents Society or of the Law Society of Scotland, hereby appoint:


*MICHAEL SHERIDAN of Glasgow, secretary to the Scottish Law Agents Society whom failing FIONA DALTON of Glasgow, President of the Scottish Law Agents Society who are both members of the Law Society of Scotland


*OR (Name)……………………………………………… who is a member of the Scottish Law Agents Society of (Place of business)………………………………….


* Delete as applicable


 to be my proxy at the General Meeting of the Scottish Law Agents Society of Scotland to be held in terms of the Constitution thereof on 6th March 2018 at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow from 5.30 pm on that date.


I grant an Open Proxy to the above named Member to vote on my behalf on any motions and any amendments to motions and any other business at the said General Meeting  in any manner he or she thinks fit.


Signed: …………………………………………………………………………………


DATE: …………………………………………………………………………………


NB  Please complete and return this document to The Secretary, Scottish Law Agents Society, 166 Buchanan Street Glasgow G1 2LW      DX GW 266 Glasgow 

LP5 Glasgow 7 Please do not fax or email. 

You may amend or withdraw this proxy at any time or otherwise advise your voting wishes all by email to

The secretary will endeavour to keep you updated by means of our website at as to the issues facing the profession and the policy thereon of the SLAS Council. This policy will take into account the input received from members such as yourself. Please copy this document to any other solicitors who may wish to be similarly represented.

You should keep a copy of this document for your own records.


General Wed, 28 Feb 2018 13:25:42 +0000
<![CDATA[Maggie Scanlan - A Memorial Party ]]> /node/3020 /node/3020#comments Maggie Scanlan – A Memorial Party

One thing that Maggie loved was a good party and preferably with a sing song. Some of her friends have now booked the Corinthian on Ingram Street in Glasgow for Friday 9th March 2018 from 7pm to share stories and recollections of Maggie over some good food and wine.

The cost is £40 per person for a three course meal.

If you can join this occasion then please reply to Clair McLachlan at and please make payment no later than Monday 26th February. Payment can be made by cheque to Sheridans, 166 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, G1 2LW, DX GW266, LP 5 Glasgow 7 or direct into the bank account shown below.



Bank of Scotland



REF: Scanlan Memorial Dinner.

General Fri, 16 Feb 2018 13:38:38 +0000
<![CDATA[Notice of General Meeting ]]> /node/3018 /node/3018#comments NOTICE OF GENERAL MEETING 

When?: Tuesday 6th March 2018, 5.30pm 

Where?: Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, 12 Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, G2 1BT


The Agenda can be found at

For anyone who cannot attend and wishes to fill in an Open Proxy Form, please contact 

Press Releases Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:49:59 +0000
<![CDATA[General Meeting 6th March 2018 5.30pm - Agenda ]]> /node/3017 /node/3017#comments Notice of General Meeting 6th March 2018 

When?: Tuesday 6th March 2018 5.30pm 

Where?: Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, 12 Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow, G2 1BT 




  1. Attendance and apologies


  1. Introduction by the President of the Scottish Law Agents Society


  1. Motion This meeting calls upon the Council of the Scottish Law Agents Society to appoint a suitable agent to move the next AGM of the Law Society of Scotland to call upon the Council of the Law Society of Scotland :

3.1   to make inquiry and report to the membership of the Society as to the number and proportion of solicitors’ practices in Scotland which are owned by entities situated outwith Scotland

3.2   to make inquiry and report to the membership of that Society as to the number and proportion of Scottish solicitors are engaged as partners or employees or directors or otherwise by entities situated out with Scotland.

3.3   To intimate to the current Independent Review of the Regulation of Legal Services that this meeting opposes the authorisation of the ownership of legal practices by persons other than solicitors both (a) in general principle and (b) as proposed by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010

3.4   To make inquiry and report to the membership of the Society as to the costs now incurred and the costs likely to be incurred by members of the Society as a result of the current litigations between the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Legal complaints Commission by virtue of (a) the representation instructed by the Law Society of Scotland and (b) the representation instructed by the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

3.5   To make inquiry and report to the membership as to the perceived benefits to (a) the solicitors’ profession and (b) the general public of Scotland of those litigations.

3.6   To inquire of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland as to whether the operation of the Land register etc (Scotland) Act 2012 since 12th December 2014 has involved the exclusion from registration of any rights of property that had been previously recorded in the Register of Sasines or registered in he Land register of Scotland

3.7   To request the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland to make inquiry and set out a schedule of such rights which have been excluded from registration in terms of 3.7 above showing in each case the name of the respective registration county and the nature f the right so excluded.

3.8   To make enquiry and report as to what proportion of adverse accounts inspection reports in terms of Practice Rule 6.11 would  be avoided if balances of less than (i) - £50.00 and separately, (ii) - £100.00, were ignored as de minimus.


  1. Motion:  This meeting calls upon the Council of the Society to move the next AGM of the Law Society of Scotland to amend the Constitution of the Law Society of Scotland so that :

(a)   paragraph 14(5) shall read

“ It shall be competent at any General Meeting to demand a poll or to vote by proxy”

And (b) paragraph 14 (10) shall read

“Where a resolution is proposed for the amendment of this Constitution, it shall, in respect that resolution, not be competent to vote in advance of or at the  relevant General Meeting in terms of Article 14(1}.”


  1.  Any Other Competent Business



Note:  1. Voting will be by poll at the meeting. Proxy votes will be included if called for by two members of the Society present at the meeting and if authorised by the chair but only where the proxy has been delivered to the secretary of the Society not less than 48 hours prior to the commencement of the meeting and only where the proxy is a member of the Society.


2.This meeting is open to all members of the Scottish Law Agents Society who apply for registration on or before close of business on 28th February 2017 and also to all Scottish solicitors whose applications for registration have been received on or before that date and granted prior to the commencement of the meeting. Application may only be made in writing by email to, by fax to 0141 353 3819 or by postal or other delivery to Scottish Law Agents Society 166 Buchanan Street Glasgow G1 2LW.


3. The Council of the Scottish Law Agents Society calls this meeting subject to the condition that, in the event of insufficient registrations having been received by 28th February 2018, the meeting may be cancelled.  This is out of consideration to those members and others who might otherwise travel to a meeting which will serve no purpose and to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the members and officials of both Societies. The sufficiency or otherwise shall be determined at the discretion of the Council of the Scottish Law Agents Society.





General Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:46:35 +0000
<![CDATA[New Law Society Consultation on Change to Conflict of Interest Rules ]]> /node/3015 /node/3015#comments We would ask members to note that the Law Society of Scotland announced a consultation on proposed changes to the Conflict of Interest Rules. This was announced on 19th January 2018 and a response is due by the 16th of February 2018.

When such a short consultation period is proposed, one has to doubt whether there is any serious intention to receive a response.  Nevertheless, if members would wish SLAS to mention any particular matters in response to this consultation, then please advise the Secretary by email at

Details of the proposed changes can be found within the consultation papers found on the Law Society’s website at

Members should consider these papers and ensure to submit a response before the 16th of February at

Press Releases Thu, 08 Feb 2018 10:40:48 +0000