Briefing note on The Law Society of Scotland Smartcard
The Law Society of Scotland is in the process of rolling out a new Smartcard to each of its 11,000+ practising solicitor members. The Smartcard is a professional legal ID recognised across Europe and will allow solicitors to apply digital signatures to a range of legal documents.
The Smartcard’s functions
The card itself has a number of practical functions for solicitors, which include:
- A new photographic ID for practising solicitors – giving access to courts and prisons and helping reassure the public they are consulting a trusted adviser.
- An electronic ID – allowing for a solicitor’s credentials to be checked in real time, helping to reduce the risks around ‘bogus’ law firms.
- A secure digital signature – allowing practising solicitors to sign documents and contracts entirely electronically, and to receive signatures from others knowing they come from a trusted professional system.
- A 21st Century register – to ensure that as a professional body, The Law Society of Scotland holds a robust and reliable confirmation of member credentials and continues to improve its registration services.
Deployment of the Smartcard to Scotland’s 11,000+ practising solicitors has already begun. Issuing the card involves a face-to-face confirmation of ID with each member, a process which is being carried out by the Society’s staff at registration events across the country.
Individuals who live in other jurisdictions but hold a Scottish practising certificate will also receive a Smartcard.
It’s envisaged that by 2016 each of the Society’s practising members will have been issued with a Smartcard, at which point it will replace the current practising certificate.
Project planning began in 2013 and culminated in the selection of Red Abogacia as the Society’s strategic technology partner following a formal tender process. Red Abogacia are a commercial arm of the Spanish National Bar who have issued digital signatures to lawyers for nearly a decade.
The certification authority for the card is Abogacía Certification Authority (ACA, operated by Red Abogacía). It meets all key EU and international standards required of certification authorities, holding the required information to allow the issuing and use of a self-proving qualified secure digital signature.