The Competition and Market Authority’s report on legal services yesterday provoked a predictably mixed response that pitted the Law Society against the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and found support from the body representing paid McKenzie Friends. Meanwhile, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers called on the Legal Services Board to use its powers to force regulatory independence to happen.
The Lord Chief Justice has called for judges to be appointed to the boards of the main legal regulators to ensure “tough standards of ethical behaviour and competence” in litigation. Lord Thomas said it seemed “very odd” that the judiciary was not represented on the boards of the SRA, BSB and CILEx Regulation.
The Ministry of Justice has no intention of dropping its plans to separate the legal regulators from their representative bodies, it said yesterday as it unveiled reviews of how the Legal Services Board and Legal Ombudsman are operating.
Significant numbers of new advocates are “weaker than might be hoped on basic knowledge” of ethical rules, a major report has found. The report also found that ethics training before and after qualification was “insufficiently robust or frequent to enable confident ethical practice amongst new advocates”.
The body representing chartered legal executives has called on the profession to end discrimination against lawyers who have qualified through non-university routes and open up the senior judiciary to those entered the law by alternative means.
More than four years after it was meant to happen, implementation of the much-delayed Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) is still stuck, while the profession awaits the government’s decision on whether it will set up an overlapping panel of defence advocates, Legal Futures can report.
The chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority has responded to strongly-worded criticisms this week from the Legal Services Board by the describing its report as “the best ever” received from the oversight regulator. However, Mr Philip admitted that there were parts of the report and performance review where the SRA had a “different opinion”.
The lack of independence between the legal regulators and representative bodies risks undermining the credibility of regulation and allows the likes of the Law Society and Bar Council to delay reforms that would benefit competition, the Legal Services Board said yesterday.
The Legal Services Board has strongly criticised the Solicitors Regulation Authority over failures in its enforcement work and IT systems – and also warned about the risk that the overhaul of the Handbook “may be too much” for firms and the regulator to cope with. However, the LSB said the legal regulators collectively had all made “substantial progress”.
Conveyancers may need to be placed under extra duties of care so as to reduce the risk of fraudulent changes being made to the Land Register, the Law Commission has suggested. A major review of the Land Registration Act 2002 also put forward ways the law could encourage the development of electronic conveyancing.