Senior civil servant Sir Michael Pitt will take over from David Edmonds as chairman of the Legal Services Board (LSB) on 1 May, it has been announced.
Sir Michael has no legal background and was chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate for three years from March 2011. The inspectorate considers 20,000 planning appeals a year, including those relating to national infrastructure projects.
His departure from the inspectorate at the end of this month was announced in early October 2013.
The appointment to run the LSB, which lasts three years, carries a £63,000 annual salary for a commitment of at least 70 days a year. Sir Michael will oversee the LSB’s board and 30 members of staff.
He had been chairman of the Infrastructure Planning Commission from its creation in May 2009. The commission’s job is to deal with national infrastructure projects under the Planning Act 2008.
From 2006-9 Sir Michael was chairman of the NHS South West. He was knighted in 2005.
In 2007, he chaired an inquiry into floods which happened that summer and the then Labour government accepted all his 92 recommendations in December 2008.
From 1990 to 2005 he was chief executive of Cheshire and Kent county councils.
He has also been chairman of the General Medical Council’s national revalidation programme board, as well as of two private companies and a local charity in north Wiltshire.
During the first half of his career Sir Michael was involved in the planning, design and construction of transport and other infrastructure in the UK and overseas, in the private and public sectors.
Sir Michael graduated with a first class degree in engineering from University College London.
The Ministry of Justice declared the appointment had been made on merit and that political activity had played no part in the selection. Mr Pitt declared he had not been involved in any political activity.
Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling said: “He brings with him experience which will be invaluable to the LSB as it moves forward in its important work overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. I wish him good luck in his new role.”
Mr Edmonds said: “I am delighted to welcome Michael as my successor as Chairman of the Legal Services Board. He will take over at an exciting, interesting and challenging time for legal services in England and Wales. He will lead an organisation of committed proponents of competition, market liberalisation, and putting the consumer interest at the heart of regulation. I wish him well.”
Sir Michael said: “I… know that I will take over at a key point in the development of the legal services market and its regulation. I look forward to the challenge of continuing to drive forward the positive changes for consumers and new opportunities for providers which the Act has initiated in legal services in England and Wales.”