MoJ set to press ahead with regulatory independence

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By Legal Futures

28 October 2016


MoJ: consultation still planned

MoJ: consultation still planned

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has no intention of dropping its plans to separate the legal regulators from their representative bodies, it said yesterday as it unveiled reviews of how the Legal Services Board (LSB) and Legal Ombudsman (LeO) are operating.

The Treasury announced 11 months ago that it would consult on reducing barriers to alternative business structures and on regulator independence, but while the former happened earlier this year, the latter still has not.

An MoJ spokesman told Legal Futures: “We intend to consult in due course on making regulators independent from their representative bodies.

“Independent regulation makes sure the consumer and public interest are at the heart of regulation. We will consider the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority market study when it is completed.”

In its interim report in July, the authority backed separation. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been lobbying hard in favour of independence, while the Law Society has said that Brexit meant this was not the time.

The reviews of the LSB and OLC have not been triggered by any particular event; all government departments must conduct a “tailored review” of their arm’s length bodies at least every five years during the lifetime of Parliament.

The reviews will examine whether there is a continuing need for the function and form of each organisation.

The MoJ said: “If it is agreed that either of the organisations be retained, the reviews will look at their capacity for delivering more effectively and efficiently, and will include an assessment of their performance.

“It will also review the control and governance arrangements to make sure they meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance.”

Both bodies were last reviewed in 2012, when the government assessed that there was a continuing need for them and that they were operating well.

Recently the LSB has laid out its vision for the future of regulation which would see the creation of a single regulator and its own abolition.



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