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.
Freeing up the rules on licensing alternative business structures will help the Solicitors Regulation Authority deal with more complex applications, such as those from businesses that form part of a group or have private equity investment, it has told the government.
The Legal Services Board has shied away from recommending a single solution which all the legal regulators should follow on indemnity insurance. The LSB instead called on the regulators to work more closely together on the issue.
The Legal Services Board has argued more strongly than ever that professional bodies must be fully separated from regulators. In a letter to the justice select committee, Sir Michael Pitt, chairman of the LSB, argued that there was scope under existing arrangements for them to “resist reforms”.
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.
The Legal Services Board has said that “further discussion and evidence” is needed before it is prepared to back proposals to force law firms to publish average prices. The LSB was responding to a report by the Legal Services Consumer Panel.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has joined the Solicitors Regulation Authority in opposing a ban on professional McKenzie Friends. The LSB said the judiciary had not explained why a ban was necessary, what harm it would address or what the consequences might be for consumers.
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.
Law firms should offer “paralegal services” to cut the cost of advice on family matters, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has suggested. In a report for the Legal Services Board, the panel also called for greater use of unbundling and fixed fees.
The chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority has responded to strongly-worded criticisms this week from the Legal Services Board by the describing its report as “the best ever” received from the oversight regulator. However, Mr Philip admitted that there were parts of the report and performance review where the SRA had a “different opinion”.