News in brief: solicitors, barristers and referrers link up, conveyancing boost and more

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By Legal Futures

6 May 2011

Initial price: will cost £50 per enquiry

Solicitors, barristers and referrers link up

London law firm EDC Lord & Co, barristers’ chambers 6 Pump Court and referral agency Contact Law have launched an online fixed-fee legal advice scheme, Contact Law will refer clients into the scheme, where barristers instructed by EDC Lord will provide the advice, priced initially at £50 + VAT.

EDC Lord partner Andrew Isitt said: “We aim to fill a yawning gap in the legal services market for easy-access, low-cost, fixed-fee legal advice. By instructing barristers to advise, we will be able to provide basic but high-quality legal advice across a wide range of topics for a low-cost fixed-fee.

“Our target market are people who are effectively excluded from accessing legal advice because they do not qualify for legal aid, but who cannot afford to pay hundreds of pounds for traditional legal services. will also be a boon for businesses who need fast access to basic legal advice at a fixed-cost”.

Stephen Hockman QC, head of 6 Pump Court, added: “Our involvement will add value in the form of specialist expertise, and at the same time will illustrate the ability of the Bar to offer its services in a new, more cost-effective and more flexible form”.

Conveyancing growth

More than 800 firms have applied to join the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), the Law Society has announced, with 100 now accredited.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders’ newly published annual report records that it is discussing with the society how the information it receives about firms as part of the CQS process “could be made available to lenders”.

The Law Society has also declared support for the scheme from Adam Sampson, the chief legal ombudsman. Though not directly endorsing CQS, Mr Sampson said: “Any initiative aimed at ensuring excellent client care and promoting good practice in the provision of legal services to the consumer is a step forward for the legal sector. The home-buying process is one of the most stressful experiences of anyone’s life, so to have a commitment to high client-care standards for that process is not only good for the residential property market, it is a boost for the consumer.”

Barristers’ work exposed

Barristers directory Havers has linked up with JustCite, the citator and search engine, to launch a free find-a-barrister service that links each barrister’s profile with the key cases they have been involved in. JustCite says it has over 30,000 registered users across the legal profession.

On his Todd

Michael Todd QC has been elected as chairman of the Bar Council for 2012. A company law specialist at Erskine Chambers, which he heads, he is the current vice-chairman and is a former chairman of the Chancery Bar Association.

On the road

The first of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s 15 roadshows across the country to help familiarise solicitors with outcomes-focused regulation took place this week. The two-hour sessions include presentations on the new SRA Handbook, an overview of its outcomes-focused approach to regulation and the proposed licensing of alternative business structures (ABSs).

After the opening presentations, delegates can attend one of three one-hour workshops concentrating on the Handbook; risk, supervision and enforcement; or authorisation.

Places at all shows were booked within days of being released but it is still possible to book onto a “roadshow recap” webinar, to be held on 30 June. See the SRA website.

Complaints overspill

The Legal Services Ombudsman (LSO) Zahida Manzoor handed over 581 open cases when her post came to end in March, papers from the Legal Ombudsman have shown (LeO).

John Norton, one of LeO’s ombudsman has been appointed as the acting LSO to wind down the operation, with 247 of the cases being dealt with at LeO’s Birmingham office and the rest managed by existing LSO staff in Manchester. The papers says Mr Norton is confident that adequate resources are in place to manage the inherited caseload by June, with the function scheduled to close in December.

ABS licensing consultation

The Legal Services Board has launched a consultation on how it would deal with applications from bodies which want to become ABSs but have no appropriate licensing authority to which they can apply. The board is required by the Legal Services Act 2007 to have a procedure in place, but Legal Futures understands that in reality, assuming the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Council for Licensed Conveyancers are successful in their applications to become ABS licensing authority, such a situation is highly unlikely to arise.

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