QCs should lose their title if they fall below an acceptable standard, the Legal Services Consumer Panel suggested today in a report that calls on legal bodies that run voluntary quality schemes to improve checks on lawyers’ continuing competence so as to boost consumer confidence.
There is a strong case for some lawyers facing periodic reaccreditation and for creating a single badge to help consumers distinguish between regulated and unregulated providers, the Legal Services Consumer Panel said in a report published today. Responding to a request from the Legal Services Board for consumer perspectives on quality, the panel drew on consumer research it commissioned and found support for lawyers undergoing “a regular MOT”.
Competence testing is a delicate subject which legal regulators approach with considerable caution. It has been talked about – indeed, SRA chief executive Antony Townsend expressed his desire to move towards it when appointed in 2006 – but the fear with such schemes is that practitioners view them as a form of punishment, rather than being about professional development, maintaining high standards and reassuring the public.
Lawyers should undergo five-yearly competence testing, as well as face peer review of the advice they provide clients, the chairwoman of the Legal Services Consumer Panel has said.