Scotland Professional Regulation
Scotland, a country filled with sports, culture and a rich heritage. Introducing the world to the highland games and the historical bagpipes which the adopted and turned into an international icon.
Like the other countries within the UK, Scotland has formed its own set of courts and thus maintained its own jurisdiction. This means that not every law and regulation you find within the UK necessarily applies to the rules and regulations of Scotland, although sometimes there is overlap.
Accountant – An accountant is a qualified individual who prepares, audits, and finalises the accounts of companies, individuals, and other entities. They are similar to auditors in the sense that both roles are responsible for the accounting of companies, but auditors usually have the added responsibility of reviewing the work of accountants and the remaining business. A general accountant in Scotland is different to a chartered accountant. Chartered accountants are specialist in services and businesses, whilst possessing greater job experiences and a higher academic degree.
General accountants are expected to have completed the Advanced Diploma in Accounting (AAT) as a minimum requirement. The AAT is a degree for individuals wanting to start out a career in accounting, and it consists of three levels. The first level is the Foundation Certificate, a course that takes between 6-12 months to complete and is considered a level 2 qualification in the UK. The second stage is the Advanced Diploma course which also takes 6-12 months to complete, and is considered a level 3 qualification in the UK. The third stage is the Professional Diploma course which takes between 9-18 months to complete, and is considered a level 5 qualification in the UK.
Chartered Accountant: To be considered a qualified chartered accountant in Scotland , an individual must have completed a training route accepted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), found here.
Lawyer: A lawyer is a generic term used to identify and individual who is a licensed legal practitioner qualified to give legal advice in one or more areas of law. They are either known as barristers, solicitors, or legal executives. Depending on the type of lawyer, all lawyers within Scotland are regulated by a particular organisation. This reassures employers, clients and the public that they can trust organisational members as safe and competent legal practitioners.
Barrister: Barristers (in Scotland referred to as Advocates) are lawyers specialised in advocacy, representing individuals or organisations in court, and providing reasoned opinions on complex areas of law. They are usually self-employed who come together with other barristers in ‘chambers’. They are more often instructed through solicitors for specialist work, rather than directly by clients.
Solicitor: A solicitor (in Scotland) is a qualified lawyer responsible for preparing legal documentation, representing and/or defending a client’s legal interests. Usually working in firms, they are the first port of call for most clients, and will instruct barristers on their clients behalf where necessary.
Solicitors practicing in Scotland are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland.
Legal Executive: Legal executives (in Scotland) are a form of trained legal professional in certain jurisdictions. They often specialise in a particular area of law. The training that a Legal Executive undertakes usually includes both vocational training and academic qualifications.
Legal Adviser: A catch all term which includes regulated and unregulated lawyers.
Tax Adviser: Another catch all term, a tax adviser is an individual specialised in tax legislation. Tax Advisers include tax lawyers, tax accountants and unqualified consultants. They provide advisory and consultancy services to their clients. They ensure that their clients pay taxes in the most efficient way and benefit from any tax advantages and exemptions.
Representative body for lawyers
Regulatory body for lawyers
Lawyers in Northern Ireland are mainly regulated by two bodies.
Solicitors are also regulated by the Law Society of Scotland, and barristers are also regulated by the Faculty of Advocates. These two groups serve as the main representative and regulatory bodies for each profession.
The full list of regulatory bodies can be found here.
Lawyers Code of Conduct
The Rules and Guidance of the Law Society applies to solicitors within Scotland.
The Guide to the Professional Conduct of Advocates applies to barristers (advocates) within Scotland.
Obligations and requirements to practice law
To practice law within Northern Ireland as a solicitor individuals are required to have completed the following:
- The standard route. A four-year law degree (LLB) at one of ten universities in Scotland. An English or Welsh LLB doesn’t count in Scotland, and nor does the Legal Practice Course. In addition, there’s no equivalent to England’s Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course, which means it’s much harder to qualify as a lawyer if you haven’t done a law degree.
- After the law degree, a 26-week Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (DPLP) or Professional Education and Training Stage 1 (PEAT1) must be taken.
- Finally, the DPLP is followed by a two-year traineeship (or PEAT2) undertaken with a law firm.
To practice law within Scotland as a barrister, individuals are expected to have completed the following:
- A degree in Scots law of an appropriate standard. This means they must have passed examinations in specified legal subjects, obtained a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (DPLP), and passed the Faculty’s examination in Evidence, Practice and Procedure.
- This is followed by a vocational requirement. This is the period whereby an indvidual is training in a solicitor’s office, completing their pupillage, and sucessfully completing their assessment under the Faculty’s Scheme of Assessment of Devils.
Rules regarding referrals and commissions for lawyers
The Law Society sets out the degree of professionalism expected from solicitors practicing in Scotland.
Information regarding referrals and commissions can be found here.
The Faculty of Advocates highlights the degree of professionalism expected from barristers practicing in Scotland.
Information regarding referrals and commisions can be found here.
Solicitors within Scotland can be found on the Law Society directory.
Barristers (advocates) within Scotland can be found on the Faculty of Advocates directory.
Representative body for chartered accountants
Within Scotland, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) is considered to be the main representative body.
Regulatory body for chartered accountants
There are four main regulatory bodies that regulate chartered accountants in Scotland:
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
- Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
Chartered accountants’ Code of Ethics
The applicable code of ethics is provided by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
The code of ethics can be found here.
Obligations & requirements for accountants
There are several routes that can be taken to be considered a chartered accountant within Scotland:
- The graduate route.
- The school leaver route.
- The professional entry for experienced finance professionals route.
- The Accountancy Professional apprenticeships route.
Rules regarding referrals and commissions for accountants
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) sets out the ethical requirements and professional standards required for chartered accountants within Scotland.
Their rules regarding referrals and commissions can be found within section 330 of their Code of Ethics.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) register can be found here.
The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) register can be found here.
The Certified Public Accountants Association (CPAA) register can be found here.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) register can be found here.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) register can be found here.