Legal Services Board
The Legal Services Board is to review the conduct of the Law Society since autumn 2014 to determine whether Chancery Lane interfered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s independence, it has emerged. The wide scope of the investigation indicates that the board will dig deep into the society’s internal workings.
There needs to be a “root and branch” review of the complaints process run by the Legal Ombudsman, with the speed with which complaints are resolved a particular concern, according to the prospective chair of the organisation’s governing body.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has warned of “information overload” as legal regulators struggle to come to terms with the demands of the Competition and Markets Authority for transparency on prices and complaints.
The Legal Services Board is to have a new chair after incumbent Sir Michael Pitt took himself out of the running for a second three-year term, Legal Futures can reveal. His predecessor was appointed for a second term without the position being advertised, but this time there will be an open competition.
Both the Legal Services Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority are putting too much emphasis on promoting competition at the expense of the other regulatory objectives they are meant to uphold, the Law Society has claimed. But the SRA has said its plan to allow practising solicitors to operate from unregulated businesses is “overdue”.
The Lord Chief Justice has outlined his “strong opposition” to a bid to allow accountants to handle tax litigation and advocacy work – and in return come under fire from the body that would regulate them. Lord Thomas described the application by the Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales as “entirely premature”.
The Legal Services Board has stepped up the pressure on the Law Society’s role as the approved regulator of solicitors by announcing a formal investigation into whether the Solicitors Regulation Authority has sufficient independence.
The Legal Services Board will next year carry out the first formal assessment of how the profession’s regulators have performed in improving diversity in their parts of the law, it has announced. Publishing its revised diversity guidance, the board said, however, that it expects to see the guidance influencing activities this year.
The Law Society’s governance troubles – with the resignation of chief executive Catherine Dixon earlier this month – are proof that it is “unsuitable” for any role in the regulation of the profession, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has told the Legal Services Board.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has warned that it will “reconsider whether it wishes to remain as a legal services regulator” if the government insists that regulators are fully independent from their professional bodies. The long-awaited consultation on this is said to be imminent.