Thank you Lord Chancellor. I am very glad to be able to add a few words to what you have said.
As a lawyer and the Scots Law Officer to the UK Government, I am particularly delighted to be a signatory to this renewed action plan.
I echo your sentiments about the importance of the legal sector to the UK economy both directly and in underpinning the growth in other sectors. Work under the original Plan for Growth has shown the huge amount that can be achieved by Government working together with the profession to promote UK Legal Services.
I was very impressed by this work. I was determined to ensure that the profession throughout the UK benefited from this vital co-operation between Government and the profession, and from the unique networks which the UK Government has access to.
The different jurisdictions in the UK allow us to offer the international market a vital variety and choice. In turn each of these jurisdictions can benefit from the networks and influence of the UK Government exemplified by the excellent work of UKTI you mentioned.
The Scots profession are, like the English, respected throughout the world for their long proud tradition of fairness and integrity and for their experience in sectors key to the modern world from energy to financial services.
Scottish law firms are internationally competitive in many such sectors. My own profession of Advocate contains many capable of tackling the most complex international disputes. In Edinburgh you will find them practicing in a thoroughly modern commercial court keen to resolve commercial disputes quickly and efficiently. Close at hand you will find the Scottish Arbitration Centre which together with the new Scottish Arbitration laws offers a genuine alternative to the City of London. Such healthy competition means that the international market needs look no further than the UK for all its legal needs.
This renewed plan, launched today contains as a key objective the promotion of the legal services offering for the whole of the UK. This is not just an aspiration it is a reflection of what is now happening in practice.
I would thank the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Scottish Arbitration Centre for working in co-operation with my office, your Department and UKTI to ensure that the Scots profession become an integral part of the co-operation between Government and the legal profession. In turn I was pleased to be to support the Law Society of Scotland’s recent bid to host the Commonwealth Law Conference in Glasgow in 2015. That successful bid will bring lawyers from all over the world to Glasgow.
I would also thank the Legal Services and Dispute Resolution Group for welcoming my office to their group and I welcome the publication of TheCityUK’s useful 2013 report on Legal Services.
However, the objective mentioned is not the only objective which I would like to single out. The Scots education sector is world famous and so I particularly welcome the specific objective on the championing of the legal education sector in the UK. I look forward to working with that sector in furthering this objective.
In conclusion I am glad of the opportunity be able to work more closely with my profession, with the professional organisations in Scotland and the Scottish Arbitration Centre and to see them benefit from the valuable work of your Department and UKTI.
Next week I will host a launch of the renewed plan in Scotland at the invitation of the Scottish Arbitration Centre and look forward to speaking further about this.
It is a pleasure to be part of this fruitful co-operation between Government and industry in a sector which is so close to my heart. I am sure any salesman would tell you that selling a product you believe in is so much easier and I know that the UK Government firmly believes in the international reach and importance of the legal sector throughout the UK.