Change and Challenge
The 2017 Annual Report is being published at a time when the profession is facing fundamental change to the way in which solicitors are regulated and disciplined. This year, the Scottish Government established an Independent Review of the Regulation of Legal Services to consider, amongst other things, the current regulatory framework and the complaints and redress process for providers of legal services. The Tribunal is participating in the Review and hopes that the outcome will result in proposals to improve the regulatory framework so that it better serves consumers and providers of legal services in Scotland. The Tribunal is ready to implement changes that are legislated and to consider the implementation of proposals to achieve this that could proceed without legislation.
Professional regulation has also been affected by Anderson Strathern LLP and Another v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission  CSIH 71 and Law Society of Scotland v Scottish Legal Complaints Commission  CSIH 36. The challenges arising from those judgements relating to “hybrid complaints” have been felt most keenly by the bodies involved but the Tribunal has also recognised their impact in the cases coming before it.
This year, two of the Tribunal’s decisions were challenged at the Court of Session. Both were rejected by the Court. In the petition of Alistair Hood for a Review of a Decision of the SSDT  CSIH 21 the Court provided useful guidance for the profession and the Tribunal on inadequate professional services, unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. In Cameron Fyfe v Law Society of Scotland  CSIH 6 the Court made clear the proper approach to dishonesty and lack of integrity.
Within the Tribunal we have experienced some changes to our membership. This year we were sorry to lose Gillian Mawdsley, Lisa Tenant and Graham McKinstry and wish them every success for the future. Other members’ terms of office are due to expire within the next year. A recruitment exercise will take place for both solicitor and non-solicitor members in due course. We recognise the benefits of a diverse and gender-balanced Tribunal and hope that solicitors who might not previously have thought of becoming members of the Tribunal, consider serving their profession in this way in the future. A strong Tribunal protects the public from harm and maintains public confidence in the legal profession.
2017 has been a year of change and challenge and no doubt 2018 will provide more of the same. However, I am confident that the Tribunal is well placed to meet these and will continue to serve the public and the profession with diligence and compassion.
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