Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 13:48 UK

Justice Committee

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing told the Justice Committee that the Legal Services Bill must be made as "tough as possible to keep the crooks out" of controlling legal service providing.

MSPs were continuing their scrutiny of the bill, which proposes to allow banks and supermarkets to invest in legal practices and even own them, on 22 June 2010.

It would allow the establishment of new business structures within the legal services industry in Scotland and would deliver a regulatory framework for those individuals and organisations that provide legal services.

The reforms are intended to liberalise the legal services market and aim to improve access to legal services.

Mr Ewing said, under amendments from the Scottish government, investors in licensed legal service providers would have to satisfy approved regulators of their fitness to invest.

The amendments, introduced by the government, added to the examination of the probity and character of a person wishing to invest in such a company, the addition of the examination of the associations of the applicant.

The communities minister said this would allow the police to provide information of criminal associations of investors and the committee approved the amendments.

MSPs also considered a series of other amendments to the Legal Services Bill.

They approved amendments on issues ranging from non-solicitors doing legal work, introducing regulations for non-solicitors writing wills and how legal service providers would be able to brand themselves.

The committee then noted minor legislation on legal aid, parental responsibility and knives.

Justice Committee membership


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