Faculty: No case for centralised regulation of professions

Faculty: No case for centralised regulation of professions

Leaving the EU should make no difference to devolved regulation of the professions in the UK, the Faculty of Advocates believes.

In a submission to the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Faculty said the current system generally worked well and no persuasive argument had been made for switching to a centralised strategy.

BEIS sought views on the recognition of professional qualifications and regulation of professions, stating in a call for evidence that the UK government aimed to “determine whether or not there would be merit in having a UK-wide, cross-sectoral strategy for the regulation of the professions”.

The Faculty said the professions were so varied, it would seem impossible to have a “one size fits all” rule. Indeed, at present, in apparent recognition of the need for local regulation, the Internal Market Bill exempts the legal profession from its common access principle.

“As the Call for Evidence notes, the regulation of the various professions is decentralised and has developed in response to the needs of specific sectors, markets and public interest: no persuasive argument is made in favour of a centralised system which is not geared to the needs and responsibilities of each individual profession,” the Faculty stated.

“To take the specific example of lawyers practising in Scotland, it will be apparent that consumer protection demands that those offering their services to the public have an in-depth knowledge of Scots law, as the knowledge of another legal system will not suffice.”

The Faculty noted that it was not explained in the call for evidence how a UK-wide, cross-sectoral strategy could be achieved in the context of the UK’s current constitutional framework.

“As currently framed, the call for evidence does not explain how the devolution system is to be preserved, and not undermined, in any new system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications,” the submission added.

Repeating what it had said in an earlier response to the UK Internal Market White Paper, the Faculty observed that regulation of the legal profession was devolved, and rules were already in place to allow transfer/cross qualification from one part of the UK to another.

“That approach generally works satisfactorily; we see no case for any different regulatory approach simply as a result of leaving the European Union.”

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