On Thursday 21 March, the UK Government held its Scottish launch of its revised Plan for Growth of UK Legal Services at the Scottish Arbitration Centre.
This renewed plan, “UK Legal Services on the International Stage: Underpinning Growth and Stability”, recognises the contribution legal services make directly to the UK economy and to underpinning economic growth. It sets out how the UK Government will work with professional bodies and the Scottish Arbitration Centre to further promote the legal sector on the international stage. It also sets out plans to work with the legal education sector to attract the brightest talents from around the globe to study here.
TheCityUK’s Legal Services 2013 Report, launched alongside the revised Plan for Growth, highlights the important contribution of legal services to the UK economy, providing some 340,000 jobs (27,900 of which are in Scotland), 1.6% of GDP and generating a trade surplus of £3.4bn.
Brandon Malone, Chairman of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, welcomed representatives of the UK Government and other guests from the legal community in Scotland to the Centre, before introducing Michael Chalmers, Solicitor to the Advocate General, to speak on behalf of The Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, Advocate General for Scotland. The revised plan was also welcomed in speeches by Austin Lafferty, President of the Law Society of Scotland, and James Wolffe QC, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.
Michael Chalmers said:
“The new Plan mentions the work of my office and the stakeholders here which has resulted in a key action point – to ensure the promotion of the legal services offer for the whole of the UK, with a regular stocktake of progress against that objective.
This is not just an aspiration; it is a reflection of what is now happening in practice. My office, the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Arbitration Centre are now firmly in the loop. They have access to the opportunities from the work around the world of the Ministry of Justice and UKTI.
My office are now attending the meetings of TheCityUK’s legal services and Dispute resolution Group which has provided a useful co-ordination and communications link between Government and the profession. At the same time we are reaching out to other organisations, for instance the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Scottish Financial Enterprise and Scottish Council for Development and Industry to see how we can work co-operatively with them to better promote the profession…
Here we are at the Scottish Arbitration Centre which together with the new Scottish Arbitration laws offers a genuine alternative to the City of London. Such healthy competition means that the international market needs look no further than the UK for all its legal needs.
I would also thank the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Arbitration Centre for working in co-operation with my office, MOJ and UKTI to ensure that the Scots profession become an integral part of the co-operation between Government and the legal profession.”
Brandon Malone said:
“We have been delighted with the positive response from UK Government and we have been working closely with Scotland Office and OAG to ensure that Scotland is part of the UK Government’s strategy on international promotion of arbitration and legal services…
I am also delighted that this work, much like the Centre itself, has involved the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland working together, and I hope that this joined up approach which has been so successful for the Bar Council and Law Society in England in the Unlocking Disputes initiative will continue and prove equally successful in the promotion of Scottish legal services in the international market.”
Andrew Mackenzie, Chief Executive of the Centre, said:
“We were delighted to host the UK Government’s launch. The Scottish Arbitration Centre has been the catalyst for the UK Government’s change in policy in respect of the promotion of arbitration and legal services to the international community. The Plan for Growth has now been amended to include specific reference to Scottish arbitration and legal services.”
Photo, from left to right: Brandon Malone, Chairman of the Scottish Arbitration Centre; Michael Chalmers, Solicitor to the Advocate General; Austin Lafferty, President of the Law Society of Scotland; James Wolffe QC, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates; and Andrew Mackenzie, Chief Executive of the Centre (who was on his way to a formal dinner)