The Centre for Ethics & Laws at University College London is to hold an independent review into the regulatory framework for legal services.
It will be led by Professor Stephen Mayson, a leading commentator on legal regulation.
The then Lord Chancellor Michael Gove had signed off on a government-led review in 2016 shortly before the EU referendum, but it was scrapped after he lost his job following the vote.
Both the Legal Services Board – which Professor Mayson has previously advised on changes that could be made within the current framework – and the Competition and Markets Authority have previously called on the government to conduct a review of legal regulation.
UCL’s review will be supported by an advisory panel comprising a range of expertise across law, regulation and governance, ethics, business, economics and consumer matters.
The review’s objectives will be to consider how the regulatory framework can best:
- promote and preserve the public interest in the rule of law and the administration of justice;
- maintain the attractiveness of the law of England & Wales for the governance of relationships and transactions and of our courts in the resolution of disputes;
- enhance the global competitiveness of UK lawyers and other providers of legal services;
- reflect and respond flexibly to fast-changing market conditions being driven by innovation and advances in technology;
- protect and promote consumers’ interests, particularly in access to effective, ethical, innovative and affordable legal services and to justice; and
- lead the world in proportionate, risk-based and cost-effective regulation of legal services, consistent with the better regulation principles.
It will also consider what and who needs regulating, who should regulate, the independence of legal services providers from both government and representative interests, and how best to avoid the inflexibility of the current regulatory framework.
Professor Mayson said: “In the light of Brexit, ‘taking back control’ presumes full confidence in our domestic rule of law and legal institutions, as well as maintaining our performance and competitive position in the global economy.
“This review will consider how we can best ensure that our legal services remain of high quality and are effective, and their regulation proportionate and fit for purpose.”
The Legal Services Board is backing the review. Chief executive Neil Buckley said: “We are delighted that Professor Mayson and UCL are launching this independent review of legal services regulation. It is important that the regulatory framework is as effective as it can be, given the vital role that legal services play in our society.”
Professor Mayson aims to complete the review by the end of 2019, and present its conclusions and recommendations to the Ministry of Justice.