(610) MORE ACCESSIBLE ADVOCATES
A meeting of the Faculty of Advocates on 28 October 2006 adopted with immediate effect a new set of rules about the persons who may directly instruct advocates. They include, not only legal professionals (amongst whom are counted qualified conveyancing and executry practitioners in Scotland), but also members of other professional bodies recognised by the Faculty (that is, all UK professional bodies with a Royal Charter, or designated as a professional body under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, or otherwise listed in the Faculty rules), public authorities, and a number of other persons and bodies, including public limited companies, trade unions, registered charities, other recognised voluntary organisations, and the Medical and Dental Defence Union. The immediate context for the change is concern over declining business for the Faculty, with solicitors’ traditional ‘gate-keeping’ role thought to be keeping business away from the Faculty and the limited reforms to that monopoly made under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 having little practical effect.
There is no connection with the upcoming Court of Session appeal from the decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner in Alexander v Scottish Executive, which is concerned with information about the reasons why Sections 25 to 29 of the 1990 Act, setting out arrangements by which rights to conduct litigation and rights of audience can be granted to members of a professional or other body, have not yet been brought into force. The Commissioner found that the Scottish Executive was justified in withholding some of the information under the FoI exemptions, but that some of the information should be released on the grounds that it did not fall under an exemption. In addition, the Commissioner ordered the release of other information on the basis that, although it was exempt, the information should be released in the public interest. The decision is available at http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/appealsdecisions/decisions/Documents/decision057.htm.