Plans by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for improved data sharing between different regulators could be a “dead letter” if they are not applied to all of the legal regulators, the Legal Services Board has warned.
In its response to a BIS consultation paper, chief executive Chris Kenny said the LSB could see the benefits of many of the proposals the government was putting forward on data sharing between a wide range of so-called non-economic regulators.
However, he said that if it “wished to achieve its wider deregulatory policy aims” in the legal sector, the government had to “make the front-line legal regulators subject to these initiatives, not just the LSB”.
Mr Kenny said it was front-line regulators that engaged with “more than 11,000 regulated businesses” and collected data from them.
Last month the LSB chief executive told BIS, in response to an earlier consultation on ‘small business appeals champions’, that it should appoint them to the eight front-line regulators rather than the oversight-regulator.
In his latest letter to BIS, Mr Kenny welcomed the government’s decision to include all legal regulators in the new duty to promote growth, “as excessive regulation in this sector can hinder the growth not just of legal businesses but also have an adverse impact on the wider economy”.
In addition, Mr Kenny said he believed the new duty should carry equal weight to the regulatory objectives set out in section 1 of the Legal Services Act and he called on BIS to extend the new Regulators’ Code to all legal regulators.
Michael Fallon, business and enterprise minister, said in his introduction to the BIS consultation paper that data collection was a “significant burden” on businesses.
However, he said that regulators complained that data sharing was “the biggest challenge they face” in meeting the demands of the Regulators’ Code.
Under the code, regulators must have regard to the principle of ‘collect once, use multiple times’ when collecting information about the businesses they regulate and should agree mechanisms to share information, where the law allows.
BIS said that “despite the potential benefits of data sharing for both regulators and businesses, government believes that current levels of data sharing are not sufficient”.