The sanctions and appeals regimes of the frontline regulators are an inconsistent “jumble” of different powers that may protect lawyers rather than consumers, according to the Legal Services Board.
The frontline legal regulators yesterday launched a groundbreaking consumer-facing information website that aims to demystify the legal profession for ordinary people.
The frontline regulators need lay chairs at the helm so as to cut the “overly strong ties” that still exist with their branches of the profession and have held back change, the Legal Services Board said yesterday. The call was met by strong opposition.
Legal regulators have failed to open up their professional registers containing disciplinary information to price comparison websites, despite having been instructed to do so by the Legal Services Board, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has complained.
Some of the frontline regulators have hit back at the Legal Services Board’s assessment of their performance. A detailed report on the “smaller” regulators found a wide range of competence, both across the different regulators and within each of them individually.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has told the regulators it oversees that now is the time for them to prove they can deliver what is expected of them, warning that it will put their promises “to the test”. The LSB said its focus in 2013/14 will be on the performance of the regulators.
The professional standards of costs lawyers will in future be independently assured after the Costs Lawyer Standards Board this week became their approved regulator. They can become partners in LDPs and are within the Legal Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
The Institute of Legal Executives is the first approved regulator to receive a clean bill of health for its internal governance arrangements for 2011. The Legal Services Board is currently reviewing the regulatory independence certificates submitted by each approved regulator where there is also a linked representative body. There is no news yet on either the Law Society or Bar Council’s certificates.
A single regulator for all legal services is “logical and plausible”, but not inevitable, a report for the Legal Services Board has concluded. Former Ministry of Justice official Nick Smedley argued that the existence of multiple regulators “focused on the differences of individual practitioners” is unlikely to be relevant in a post-alternative business structures market.