Legal Services Act in Scotland

♬ You got your chips and dip
Tacos and sour cream
A can-o-pop to sip
Watch TV on big screen

GOT MILK?
Oh that would make my day! ♬

Lyrics and Music by Chris Brown and Simon Cranny, recorded by AKA.

Tesco

Tesco

Oct. 6, 2010 was a momentous day in Scotland. The Law Society there passed into law ‘alternative business structures’ for law firms.

According to Scotsman.com:

MSPs have passed a controversial law that will reform the legal profession by enabling supermarkets, estate agents and other businesses to form partnerships with law firms.

The Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, which has been nicknamed “Tesco law”, was approved unanimously after a “turbulent and bruising” passage through parliament.

Tesco” is a large retailer in the UK, selling everything from groceries to clothing, electrical goods to gasoline (petrol in the UK) and much more.

The Firm Magazine reported as follows:

The Legal Services bill has been passed into law as the Legal Sevices Act 2010, incorporating the “majority” ownership” model of service provision adopted at September’s AGM.

In a statement, the Law Society said provisions in the act “meant the ‘Tesco law’ option, which would have allowed 100% of non-solicitor ownership of a law firm, was ruled out for Scotland”.

The Scotsman.com stated further:

The key change in the legislation allows lawyers to form partnerships with non-lawyers under alternative business structures (ABS). The issue divided opinion in the legal profession in Scotland.

There had been concerns that the law would have seen supermarkets and banks able to effectively set up their own legal firms.

But the bill was amended at committee stage to restrict outside ownership to no more than 49 per cent, a compromise put forward by the Law Society of Scotland.

The changes were welcomed at least by some:

Douglas Connell, the senior partner at the Edinburgh law firm Turcan Connell, welcomed the change saying: “There could be major advantages for local firms throughout Scotland, and indeed the UK, with accountants, solicitors, financial advisers, surveyors and other professionals having the option of coming together to share overheads, whilst adding value to client services and helping to secure their survival through difficult times.”

The upshot of all this seems to be that, at least for now, you won’t be able to go into a Scottish supermarket and pick up a litre of milk along with your will…

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