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.
A volume conveyancing firm has apologised after sending out letters to clients asking for an additional £200 fee to “prioritise” their files in the run-up to Christmas. Meanwhile, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers is to launch a ‘secure badge’ to help the firms it regulates combat their websites being cloned.
A notarial firm based in Norwich has become the first to be regulated as an alternative business structure by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The move was triggered by the decision to appoint its first non-notary employees earlier this year.
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.
With the unregulated sector and McKenzie Friends under growing scrutiny, one firm of fee-charging McKenzie Friends is continuing to expand by opening new offices and taking on a trainee, who will eventually qualify as a lawyer, its senior partner has said.
The failure to give Scottish notaries public the right to practise in England and Wales is having a “significant impact on clients in terms of cost and inconvenience”, the Law Society of Scotland has claimed. While intra-UK practice rights for solicitors have been in place since 1990, there are no corresponding provisions concerning notaries public.
A woman who obtained a grant of letters of administration and then used a firm of licensed conveyancers to defend herself against a claim from other potential beneficiaries, has been told by the High Court that she has to pay back to the estate nearly £87,000 given to the firm that has been lost.
“Many of my solicitor friends are insanely jealous” that the new arrangements for licensed conveyancers’ professional indemnity insurance include free run-off cover, one practitioner said in a survey that showed widespread satisfaction with the regime.
Research into the growing trend of law firms switching regulator has begun so as to assess any risks for consumers and whether there may be unintended consequences. The Legal Services Board is undertaking the work and will look, among other things, at the extent to which new regulators check and use a lawyer or firm’s previous regulatory history.
A barrister who was convicted last year of practising as an immigration adviser while his registration was suspended, has now been suspended from the Bar as well. Meanwhile, four unqualified immigration advisers have been convicted of offering services without being registered by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.