Mixed response to LSB’s plan for regulatory overhaul, with Falconer calling for focus on unmet legal need instead
Reactions from key legal services industry bodies to the Legal Services Board’s blueprint for radical form of legal regulation have ranged from enthusiastic welcome to anger at its timing, while the politician who introduced the Legal Services Act 2007 said tackling unmet legal need was more of a priority.
The Bar Council has slammed the Bar Standards Board’s forthcoming continuing professional development regime as being burdensome, complicated, unfit for purpose, and involving “pointless” self-assessment. It warned that the scheme would lead to “many practitioners” being “likely to fail in their compliance”.
The ramifications of leaving the European Union are likely to be wide-ranging and could restrict the ability of barristers to practise outside England and Wales, the chairman of the Bar Council has warned. Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC said the Bar Council was setting up a working group on the impact of Brexit.
Litigants with limited funds should use direct access barristers to represent them in court rather than pay for McKenzie Friends, the Bar Council has argued. The Bar Council, along with the Law Society and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, supported the judiciary’s call for a ban on professional McKenzie Friends.
The Legal Services Board has announced a change in its practising certificate fee rules, which will put the spotlight on spending by professional bodies such as the Law Society and Bar Council. Both professional bodies opposed the change.
Law Society spending on non-regulatory ‘permitted purposes’, such as law reform and practice support, surged by £6.3m in the four years between 2010 and 2014, research by the Legal Services Board has revealed. The research was part of the LSB’s investigation into the cost of legal services regulation.
The Legal Director, a legal consultancy which provides in-house lawyers to businesses on a contract basis, has become the first firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to use the Bar Council’s third-party escrow account, BARCO.
Barristers who outsource work must not “ask for or accept” any payment from third parties, the Bar Council has warned. However, third parties can “for commercial reasons” offer services to barristers at lower than normal rates, so long as the “entire benefit” is passed to lay clients.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has issued its first waiver to a law firm it regulates to allow it to use the Bar Council’s escrow service BARCO, with three other firms in the pipeline, it has emerged.
The current arrangements for the regulation of barristers are “relatively cost-efficient” and there is no need to make the Bar Standards Board (BSB) fully independent, the incoming chairman of the Bar Council has said.