Revealed: government eyes deregulation of legal market

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15 May 2013

Parliament: report on Legal Services Act to justice committee

Further deregulation of the legal market is in the offing as a result of two initiatives at the Ministry of Justice, Legal Futures can reveal – and could yet lead to will-writing becoming regulated.

One is a post-legislative review of the Legal Services Act 2007, while the second is work that has begun internally to consider “how the regulatory landscape might be simplified and to reduce any unnecessary burdens on the sector”.

The two projects are being run in parallel.

The terms of the post-legislative review are:

  • To see whether legislation is working out in practice as intended;
  • To improve the focus on implementation and delivery of policy aims, and contribute to better regulation; and
  • To identify and disseminate good practice so that lessons may be drawn from the successes and failures revealed by the scrutiny.

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However, the review will not replay policy arguments made at time of passage of Bill and should not require “disproportionate resources”.

The MoJ has been seeking stakeholder views and will be preparing a report for the justice select committee.

The other review appears to be at a less advanced stage, with a Ministry of Justice spokesman telling Legal Futures: “We want to simplify the regulatory framework for the legal services sector and reduce the burdens on the industry. We are starting a review to see where improvements can be made. The form of this review is being considered and next steps will be set out in due course.”

The first sign of the thinking on this came yesterday at the end of the announcement about Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling’s decision not to accede to the Legal Services Board’s recommendation to regulate will-writing.

It said: “As part of this review, the Lord Chancellor will consider whether it might be appropriate to bring will-writing within the scope of legal services regulation. It would not be beneficial to add to the complexity of the regulatory landscape in advance of the outcome of this work.”

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