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Frank Maguire, Senior Partner of Thompsons Solicitors has warned that there are major political battles looming over the Scottish Parliament’s legislation to change the way legal services are delivered in Scotland.

Mr Maguire opposes the proposals for Alternative Business Structures, dubbed ‘Tesco Law’ because it would enable legal services to be sold in supermarkets. He argues the proposals are based on the misconception that legal services should be treated like any other consumer product.

Mr Maguire said: “While conceding to passage at Stage 1 of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill the jury of the Scottish Parliament is still out.

Robert Brown of the Liberal Democrats had this to say “On behalf of the Liberal Democrats I am prepared to offer support for the general principles of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1, but only on the basis that a fundamental rethink is required on some of the details which might involve substantial and radical surgery of the Bill at Stage 2.  At this point we make no commitment to support the Bill at Stage 3.”

“The Debate also signalled that the headlong rush towards legislation based on a business mantra generated by the OFT, Consumer Focus and Which, will not do.

“As one MSP stated, echoing the views of many lawyers, legal services is not the same as “selling cornflakes or yoghurt”. 

“Irrespective of commercial goals there are values which are crucial to our democratic society.  We recognise that, for example, education and health are not the servants of commercial interests.  So too with the administration of justice. 

“The values which should be present are independence, confidentiality, avoidance of conflicts of interest and access.

“Let’s hope the Scottish Parliament, and especially the Scottish Government, continues to listen so that we have the fair and balanced legal services crucial for the administration of justice and our Scottish citizens. 

“Lawyers must continue to promote to parliamentarians the values which we bring before every client.”

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