The “unbalanced promotion of competition” in the legal services market “carries dangers” and puts ethical standards at risk, a major report based on a survey of 966 solicitors and barristers has concluded.
The outgoing chairman of the Solicitors Regulation Authority has urged the “flat-earthers” at the Law Society to accept that full structural independence for the regulator from Chancery Lane is inevitable.
The Competition and Markets Authority is considering whether to launch a review of the legal services market, it has emerged. It was a report in 2001 by its predecessor, the Office of Fair Trading, which began the process that led to the Legal Services Act 2007.
The legal regulators should have full independence, and ‘approved regulator’ role of the Bar Council, Law Society and other professional bodies should be abolished, the chair of the Bar Standards Board argued yesterday.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has reined in its ambitions for massive internal powers to fine solicitors and ‘traditional’ law firms, applying to increase the current £2,000 limit to £10,000.
The Legal Ombudsman has introduced a policy for dealing with complaints about organisations which provide non-legal as well as legal services, such as some alternative business structures and, shortly, accountants who offer probate advice.
In his first interview since taking over as chairman of the Legal Services Board, Sir Michael Pitt has cooled talk of a single regulator for all legal services. Sir Michael also praised the Solicitors Regulation Authority for its current programme of reform.
Dr Vanessa Davies, director of the Bar Standards Board (BSB), has made it clear that the regulator will push for more independence in the future.
More needs to be done to reduce the cost of legal services to meet the needs of small businesses and people who are neither wealthy nor eligible for legal aid, the chairman of the Legal Services Board has said in his first public speech.
The “flaws and limitations” of the Legal Services Act are “all too apparent” and, as every year goes by, it is moving closer to “the regulatory equivalent of the knacker’s yard”, Professor Stephen Mayson has said.