Section 70 – Safeguarding clients
153.Section 70 makes provision to safeguard the interests of clients of a licensed provider which is ceasing, or has already ceased (see subsection (11)) to provide legal services. It sets out the requirements placed on the licensed provider in question, and allows the approved regulator to issue directions (subsection (3)) to it in order to protect the interests of clients. Such directions may concern making certain documents and information, or money held on behalf of clients or in trust, available. For example, where the licensed provider has ceased to exist, clients may find it difficult or time consuming to gain access to documents, information, or money, not least if the former point of contact is no longer available. The approved regulator’s ability to compel the licensed provider (or former licensed provider) to take such actions as it considers necessary could be used therefore to mitigate the impact on clients.
154.Subsection (6) allows recourse to the Court of Session should the licensed provider fail to comply with any directions given by the approved regulator. The Court may make various orders to preserve the clients’ positions, such as varying the approved regulator’s directions as it sees fit, or impose conditions, or freezing bank accounts. The Court, following consideration of the circumstances must be satisfied that the action is appropriate and must consider any relevant input from those with an interest in the situation before making an order (see subsection (7)).
155.Subsection (10) gives the Scottish Ministers a regulation making power to make further provision regarding the steps taken to safeguard the interests of clients in the circumstances described in subsection (1).