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It takes a really burning issue to produce the heated public debate that we have seen split the Scottish Legal profession over the last few weeks.

But that’s exactly how lawyers have reacted to the proposal before the Scottish Parliament, to introduce so-called ‘Tesco Law,’ which will allow legal firms to raise capital from outside investors or to be run by banks or supermarkets, hence the ‘Tesco’ tag.

My colleagues make no apology for opposing the proposal purely on principle. As principally trade union lawyers, the proposals won’t affect our legal practice. We feel that it will inevitably lower standards, with potentially catastrophic effects on clients.

My colleagues sincerely believe this move will put in jeopardy the independence and integrity of the legal profession.

They also have real concerns that Tesco Law could become a charter for serious and organised criminals to move in to expand their empires, launder their ill-gotten gains from serious crimes like drugs and prostitution, and influence the administration of justice.

My colleagues are not alone in their view, particularly since the present proposals only envisage a budget of £1,300 to monitor whether those opening new firms have criminal records, when ten times that amount would barely scratch the surface.

We all know ‘lawyers’ jokes’ and certainly lawyers are no angels but we don’t just work for profit. There is also an element of public service.

In our view this Bill has been looked at in terms of the profit that it may bring to very large commercial firms while totally ignoring the disproportionate and unguarded risk to the public from nefarious elements and to the quality of our legal services.
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