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Monday, 12 September 2016
Delivering better outcomes for consumers and citizens
LSB outlines options for legislative reform
The Legal Services Board (LSB) publishes today its vision for legislative reform of the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales.
Government Ministers challenged the legal services regulators in 2014 to free up the legal services sector so that it works better for citizens, reduces burdens on practitioners and delivers economic growth. Today's paper is a further LSB response to this challenge.
Legal Services Board Chairman, Sir Michael Pitt, said:
"The paper we are publishing today sets out the LSB's vision for a future regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales.
We believe that further legislative reform would help address current challenges and make the step change needed to improve outcomes for consumers, citizens and practitioners.
There is a need to tackle the tensions inherent in the existing framework. A new legal framework will help secure the important public interest outcomes that the legal sector delivers, such as maintaining the rule of law and ensuring access to justice. It will also strengthen the contribution the legal sector makes to the reputation of the UK as a great place to do business
Any new legislative framework should take a risk-based approach to regulation and focus on the activities undertaken by providers. It must also be fully independent of the professions and Government.
The existing arrangements are confusing and complex. We believe that a single regulator, covering the whole legal services sector and accountable to Parliament, would be best placed to deliver improvement, deregulate, save cost and act strategically.
I look forward to discussing these proposals with the Government and interested parties."
For further information, please contact the LSB's Communications Manager, Vincent McGovern (020 7271 0068).
Notes for editors:
- The Legal Services Board's (LSB) paper – A vision for legislative reform of the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales can be found here.
- Legal Services Board Chairman, Sir Michael Pitt, speaks at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum event: The legal services market - regulation, innovation and the future of the Legal Services Act on Monday 12 September. His speech (which you can find here) focuses in some detail on the proposals outlined in this paper.
- In summary the paper proposes the following reforms:
- On 20 July 2015 the LSB published the regulators' collective response to Ministers' deregulation challenge. This response can be found here.
- On 27 July 2015 the LSB published a further response: The case for change: legislative options beyond the Legal Services Act 2007 which can be found here.
- The Competition & Market Authority Legal Services Market Study interim report (and other information) can be found here.
- The Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
- The LSB oversees nine approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants are listed as approved regulators in relation only to reserved probate activities.
- As at 1 April 2016, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 145,059 solicitors, 15,288 barristers, 6,848 chartered legal executives and 5,697 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The UK legal sector is valued at £32 billion per annum (2015) which is up 23% in cash terms since 2012. For more information see here.