Oversight regulator ramps up Post Office pressure on SRA and BSB

Post Office: Regulators need to move at pace

The Legal Services Board has outlined its “high expectation” of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) taking regulatory action after the Post Office inquiry ends.

Interim chief executive Richard Orpin said it expected both to be “moving at pace” in the wake of the evidence that has come out of the inquiry.

Letters to the pair, sent last week, maintain the pressure on the SRA and BSB to respond rapidly to the revelations that have come out in recent months.

The two regulators are core participants in the inquiry but have been clear that they want to wait until it reports before taking action, unless there is evidence to show that a solicitor or barrister presents a current risk to the public.

It would appear to date that the evidence has not reached this threshold.

Mr Orpin wrote: “The LSB recognises the need for proper consideration of the evidence, both from the inquiry and that gathered from your own information gathering powers, but it is equally concerned to ensure that regulators are seen to be moving at pace, should the evidence justify regulatory action.

“While the LSB board recognises that these are currently matters for the SRA and BSB, it wanted me to emphasise that there will be a high expectation of regulatory action in light of the nature and detail of the evidence heard by the Inquiry on how barristers and solicitors have conducted themselves.”

Mr Orpin added that the LSB was continuing its broader policy work on professional ethics and the rule of law (PERL), “the importance of which is underscored by the evidence heard by the inquiry and the wider cultural issues that it raises for the profession as a whole”.

Over the last two years, the PERL programme has been trying to ascertain the issues with ethical behaviour and the gaps in regulation that have allowed unethical or unprofessional conduct to emerge.

In his report to this week’s meeting of the LSB’s board, Mr Orpin said: “We have received responses to our information requests from all the regulators to help us better understand the prevalence of the types of poor ethical conduct we have identified, and how the existing regulatory framework addresses these issues, including prevention, supervision and enforcement.”

A meeting of the LSB’s PERL reference group – made up of representatives from legal regulators, representative bodies, lawyers, academics and civil society groups – will take place next month to discuss potential regulatory and non-regulatory solutions to the problems identified.

    Readers Comments

  • Andrew Lawrence says:

    I contacted the Legal Services Board raising that the SRA are failing to protect clients and they should be putting pressure on the SRA to do what they are supposed to do and regulate solicitors.
    I supported the case with photos from Trust pilot only to be brushed aside.

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