A direct consequence of the government’s decision in May not to make any major changes to the regulatory framework for legal services is that it simultaneously fired the starting gun for the race to introduce major changes to the regulatory framework for legal services.
Firms applying for alternative business structure (ABS) status believe the Solicitors Regulation Authority takes too long to approve applications and its staff are too “bureaucratic”, according to the regulator’s own research.
The Legal Services Board is to tell the approved regulators that they must consult those they regulate about setting the level of practising fees beyond what is needed simply for regulation, it has emerged.
Consumers of legal services do not all need the same level of protection and some of them, such as big corporations, might not need “any protection at all”, the SRA has said in a policy statement on its approach to regulation.
If regulators are not loved by those they regulate, then it is no surprise to find that the regulator of regulators is even less loved. And so I don’t imagine that beyond the offices of the Legal Services Board, many tears will be shed that David Edmonds’ second and final term of office is up today. There may, indeed, be some sighs of relief.
The outgoing chairman of the Legal Services Board has fired a parting shot at the Law Society and Bar Council – which he described as “two very strong trade unions” – for their “hostile attitude to change” and acting out of self-interest, rather than in the public interest.
Plans to simplify the approval process for non-lawyer owners of alternative business structures are being considered by the Legal Services Board, it has emerged. Private equity purchasers are proving particularly tricky under the current regime.
The move by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to embrace entity-based and outcomes-focused regulation is hard to understand, major new research commissioned by the Legal Services Board and Law Society has claimed.
The prospect of external investment in intellectual property firms is set to soar after the Intellectual Property Regulation Board won the support of the Legal Services Board to become the third alternative business structure licensing authority.
The Legal Services Board’s consumer body has come out strongly in favour of making it compulsory that the chairs of the frontline regulators are not drawn from the profession, saying it would help counter conservatism in liberalising the legal market.