Move Towards Scottish ABSs

abs scotland licensed

The Scottish Government has announced that the Law Society of Scotland has been authorised as a regulator of Licensed Legal Services Providers in Scotland.

The government’s authorisation is a further step towards solicitors and non-solicitors being able to set up businesses together to provide legal and other business services to consumers in Scotland.

These new types of businesses, which would be required to be majority owned (at least 51%) by ‘regulated professionals’, could see Scottish solicitors set up in partnership with other specialists such as surveyors, accountants or architects, promote existing senior, non-solicitor staff to partner level or seek external capital. All licensed providers would require at least one solicitor to be employed in the business, with a solicitor acting as head of legal services.

ABSs have, of course, been permitted for some time in England and wales and the move brings Scottish law firms in line with this.

The Law Society is currently building the policies and processes that will support the approved regulatory scheme, which is due to launch in 2022.

Ken Dalling, President of the Law Society of Scotland said:

“Today’s announcement marks a significant step towards opening up the legal services market in Scotland to permit these new types of businesses.

“It has taken significant effort to get to this stage and we are working on the policies and processes needed to support the new regulatory framework. It will ensure licensed providers operate to high professional standards and that there are robust consumer protections in place, as there are for clients of solicitor firms.”

The professions which currently qualify as ‘regulated professions’ under the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010, are set out in the Licensed Legal Services (Specification of Regulated Professions) (Scotland) Regulations 2012.

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