Which? affordable representation calls criticised

Legal bodies in Scotland have criticised moves by a consumer watchdog to prompt an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into affordable justice in Scotland.

Consumer magazine Which? was reported by the Herald to have put forward a "super complaint" to the OFT this week, suggesting that regulation of the profession in Scotland prevents both competition and sufficient access to affordable representation.

However, the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland have countered the complaint, stating that it was not called for and that more productive would be a discussion of the watchdog’s concerns directly with the profession’s bodies.

The debate follows a decision by the legal profession in Scotland not to follow England and Wales in pursuing the recommendations of the Clementi Review, which allowed non-legal bodies to cooperate with legal firms in the provision of legal services.

Michael Clancy, director of Law Reform at the Law Society of Scotland, commented: "The society has not been sent the complaint, but it is disappointing that Which? has chosen this route to raise these issues instead of working with the society to benefit the Scottish public."

In March, at its annual general meeting, the society discussed ways of combating apparent legal aid "deserts" in Scotland, calling for "hard evidence" that could be presented to the Scottish Executive to address the issue.