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Open letter from members of the Justice for Scotland solicitor coalition.

Solicitors are urged to reject proposed reformation of Scotland’s legal services

We regard justice not as a product at the sole mercy of profit but as a crucial service that must be available for all our communities in Scotland.

We hold dear the principles essential to the administration of justice in Scotland: independence, confidentiality and avoiding conflicts of interest.

This is why we are asking all Scottish solicitors to cast a double “no” vote in the Law Society’s referendum on Alternative Business Structures (ABS, or “Tesco law”).

Not to do so would open up control of Scotland’s legal services to purely commercial organisations. No amount of regulations or regulators stopped the banks undermining our banking system. ABS will allow them now to ruin Scotland’s legal services.

Non-profitable areas will be abandoned to create public “advice deserts” – supermarkets and other so-called entities are geared solely by profit.

No amount of regulation will stop legal services being used as a portal for money laundering and other similar activities: our legal services will be open to organised crime.

We need to refocus our legal services on Scotland’s communities and citizens.

They deserve better. We need to send a message to the Scottish Government to think again.

We must reform our Law Society as it has shown itself incapable of repres­enting all of those trying render a legal service in Scotland now and in the future.

We must seek to re-affirm, through any such reform, the principles crucial to the administration of justice.

We must also ensure that the legal service is preserved and improved across the whole range of needs of the Scottish people and their communities.

Scotland’s solicitors have a chance to re-affirm these ideals if they cast a double “no” vote in the Law Society of Scotland’s referendum.

Frank Maguire, senior partner and Solicitor Advocate, Thompsons Solicitors; John McGovern, solicitor advocate, president of the Glasgow Bar Association; Walter Semple, solicitor, member of the council of the Law Society of Scotland; Mike Dailly, principal solicitor, Govan Law Centre;  Patrick McGuire, Solicitor Advocate and partner, Thompsons Solicitors.

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