I REFER to the letter from Michael Sheridan (July 31) where he suggests that the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill is a threat to solicitor service as we know it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Legal practices currently operate as private businesses run to generate profit for their owners. They are not, and can in no way be considered to be, “public assets”.

They do, however, as Mr Sheridan says, currently enjoy a monopoly in that those owners must be practising solicitors. That is a monopoly that was correctly identified some considerable time ago as not being in the best interests of the legal practices nor consumers.

In England and Wales that monopoly was removed by the Legal Services Act 2007. The first Alternative Business Structure under that Act was licensed on October 6, 2011.

The liberalisation of legal services in England and Wales was often referred to as "Tesco Law" due to a fear that supermarkets would start providing legal services. There was fear amongst certain solicitors that they would lose their livelihoods as a result. That never transpired. Instead non-solicitor spouses become part-owners in a business they had supported, as did employees. More options were now available to law firms for raising finance and for succession. Thirteen years of liberalisation of legal services in England and Wales has demonstrated that there is nothing to fear from us adopting the same approach north of the Border.

However, Scotland has been very slow in the uptake. The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 (enacted on October 9, 2010) introduced for the first time the concept of Alternative Business Structures in Scotland.

It took more than11 years for the appointment of the Law Society of Scotland as an approved regulator. That was announced on December 22, 2021. However, the scheme still has to launch.

Under that scheme, whenever it sees the light of day (which we are told should be soon), 51% of an Alternative Business Structure must still remain effectively in solicitor ownership. The Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, which Mr Sheridan refers to, simply seeks to reduce that percentage to 10%.

My view, and that of many others, is that the ownership percentage should be reduced to 0% to give Scotland parity with England and Wales. That is the view that should be given to the Scottish Parliament through its current consultation on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill which closes on August 9.

Brian Inkster, Inksters Solicitors, Glasgow.

Tips shouldn't be compulsory

AM I being a stereotypical Scot by bridling slightly when restaurant bills come with “service charge included”?

I am happy to pay a bit extra for good service but would rather it was left to me to decide where the line between doing the job to the required standard and where it is exceptional is drawn. I would also like to decide the amount of the tip and for it to go directly to the provider of the service and not be put in a pool to be divvied up at the end of the night.

On the other hand I have every sympathy for the owners of restaurants pubs, cafes and hotels trying to generate as much income as they can in these challenging times sometimes, sadly, just to survive.

The catering industry was treated with utter indifference during lockdown and so-called recovery period with undue interferences in the operation of their businesses from complete closure to restricted opening hours to no alcohol sales and social distancing rules effectively halving the number of covers.

The number of restaurants now closing or restricting their opening hours is not good for the economy nor for the general quality of life for those of us who quite like to get out and have a drink or a meal or just a coffee with friends all the while putting money back into the economy.

So, going back to my opening remarks, I support the industry and I am happy to pay a wee bit more to keep them open for business, despite my bridling.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

The wrong sister

I WOULD like to correct Sandra Dick in her assertion that Deborah Mitford married Sir Oswald Mosley ("Reborn: The island retreat with very own part in Nazi history", The Herald, August 1). In fact Deborah Mitford married the Duke of Devonshire and went on to manage their stately home, Chatsworth House.

It was Diana Mitford who married Mosley and, along with her sister Unity, was a great supporter of Hitler and the Nazi regime.

However, it was Jessica (Decca) who became a communist, supporting the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War before involving herself in the American civil rights movement.

With their vastly-conflicting politics and colourful lives, they were a fascinating and possibly easily mixed-up family but please verify the facts before printing.

Janice Taylor, Carluke.

In the red

I REFER to the fact that wine drinkers are now faced with substantial price rises as a result of tax increases ("Duty move over wine will see prices hiked by up to 20%", The Herald, August 1).

Following this Government move, we will now learn how generous to others lovers of good wine will prove to be. It was Clifton Fadiman, American author and TV personality, who once observed: "A bottle of wine begs to be shared. I have never met a miserly wine lover."

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

In the frame for rejection

GIVEN the recent furore surrounding Coutts Bank, which offers private banking and wealth management services for high net worth customers and their families, featuring the reinstatement of the bank account of Nigel Farage, the resignation of boss Peter Flavel and that of Natwest’s Dame Alison Rose, I am tempted to apply for membership.

I am sure my certain rejection, duly framed, would do my street cred no end of good.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Draining my mental energy

DAILY, I find it nigh impossible to understand the language used in business and politics.

The chairman of the Scottish National Investment Bank is quoted today as saying that they will do a drains-up piece of work on how they looked at an investment ("So just why did our national bank blow £9m on troubled DRS?", The Herald, August 1). Google suggests that this means investigating the internals of the situation. The internals?

"Gibberish is thought to be derived from "gibber", to speak inarticulately.

I rest my case.

David Miller, Milngavie.