“Too intimidating and too expensive” – new LSB chair’s verdict on the legal market

Pitt: further slimming of rulebooks

The legal market is “too intimidating, too uniform and, in many cases, too expensive”, the new chairman of the Legal Services Board (LSB) has warned.

Sir Michael Pitt also said he would to like to see lawyers’ rulebooks slimmed down, with the board itself possibly producing a template for the individual regulators to work from.

The comments came in a newly published paper he presented to his first meeting of the LSB in May. In it, Sir Michael made no apologies for having a “consumer obsession” – despite the LSB being criticised for this in the past by some of the regulators and the senior judiciary. Indeed, he said it was his starting point.

“We still have a market which is far too intimidating, too uniform and, in many cases, too expensive,” he wrote. “I am aware that this is a wide generalisation and that the LSB’s work in recent years has helped to set the tectonic plates moving, but it still seems as if we have a great deal to do when it comes to improving the experience of the bulk of consumers – and, above all, their doubts about whether the law is really ‘for them’.”

He continued: “The legal sector is a part of the wider economy. It is clearly an important and valuable part, not least in terms of the aspects of public interest that it protects and promotes.

“But, in the wider economy, customers are generally best served by well-functioning markets, with public interest safeguards and regulation targeted only where justified in light of the fundamental characteristics of the market (for example, the inevitable disparities in knowledge between consumers and the professionals they consult).”

As he did later at his first press briefing, Sir Michael made clear in the document his support for the LSB’s blueprint for regulatory reform and particularly a single legal regulator, arguing that “it is hard to see how the sheer volume and complexity of the statutory framework can do anything other than get in the way of a crisp and clean relationship between the lawyer and client/consumer”.

Among his initial thoughts on key LSB activities were continuing to press the frontline regulators “hard” to improve their performance, and keeping will-writing regulation on the political agenda.

“One opportunity I am keen to explore is whether we can encourage further slimming of rulebooks by producing some form of model framework or template ourselves,” he added.

“It might capture the underlying principles of effective regulation which all the frontline regulators of legal services should share, encouraging a greater degree of convergence over time.”

Sir Michael also made clear his admiration for the profession. “I am starting from a position of deep respect for the ability, professionalism and ethical standards of lawyers and legal businesses,” he said, adding: “Although we will continue to bring challenge – and sometimes very significant challenge – to existing practices, we should ensure that we are proportionate and celebrate good practice when we see it.”


    Readers Comments

  • Amit Sharma says:

    Try running a business for a day to see whether we are non profit organisations.

    You want to reduce prices and increase competition; make it simpler for solicitors to be estate agents aswell without separate business nonsense for example.

    Make SRA minimum terms optional if you want to level the playing field with other unregulated activities. Scrap reserved activities and then you will see the true open market for the chaos it will become.

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


The hot graphic design trends in the legal sector

As we recover from an unprecedented 19 months within our sector, marketing teams and clerks’ rooms are keener than ever to try out something new in the promotion of their businesses.

What challenges will the Bar face in the next five years?

As we look towards the end of 2021 and at how the Bar has adapted to the harsh realities of the pandemic, the question beckons as to what the future holds.

The rise of cyber-criminal threat for law firms since Covid-19

The global coronavirus pandemic, and the rise in people working from home, has unfortunately provoked a growth in cyber-crime. The UK government estimates that the cost of cyber-crime is £27bn per annum.

Loading animation