First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he “fundamentally disagrees” with recent criticism of proposed reforms to how the legal sector is regulated.

The Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill was lodged earlier this year and would give ministers powers over the regulation of legal professionals.

Correspondence published by Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee showed the level of discontent within the sector, with the Senators of the College of Justice saying it would be a “threat” to the independence of the profession and judiciary as well as open up the legal system to “political abuse”.

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Critics have also said the Scottish Government would be given the status of “co-regulator” of the profession alongside the Lord President.

But in response, the First Minister said: “I fundamentally disagree.”

He added: “In terms of the reforms that we’re bringing forward – remember, these came on the back of a consultation – people want to see the legal profession appropriately regulated.

“We also, as a Government, absolutely respect the independence of the judiciary.

“I was justice secretary for a period of time in the Government, I completely understand the need for independence of the judiciary and, of course, we will consider any ideas, amendments, that are brought forward , but it’s really important that we have a legal profession that is appropriately regulated.”

In its submission to the committee, the Senators of the College of Justice – Scotland’s top judges – said: “These proposals are a threat to the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.

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“It is of critical constitutional importance that there is a legal profession which is willing and able to stand up for the citizen against the government of the day.

“The judiciary is fundamentally opposed to this attempt to bring the legal profession under political control.

“If the Bill is passed in its current form, Scotland will be viewed internationally as a country whose legal system is open to political abuse.”

The Law Society of Scotland said: “Of greatest concern to us, as we will detail in this submission, is the desire of the Scottish Government to be granted extensive and exceptional new powers of intervention over how legal professionals are regulated.

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“These powers, which we have not been able to identify in any other western democracy, risk seriously undermining the rule of the law and the independence of Scotland’s legal sector from the state.

“A key component of a free and democratic society is the role that an independent legal profession plays in challenging government and protecting citizens from the excessive use of power by the state.

“We hope the committee will ultimately conclude these sections should be removed from the Bill altogether.”