The Legal Services Board (LSB) has published an enforcement report which sets out the findings of an end to end review of the BSB and the SRA’s enforcement processes and articulates the LSB’s future strategic priorities on regulatory enforcement.
Through its end to end review the LSB obtained assurance that the BSB and SRA met the six expected outcomes for enforcement in its regulatory performance framework. In addition, we have been advised of a number of ongoing actions and improvements to the BSB and SRA’s enforcement processes.
The end to end review provided an opportunity to consider whether the LSB’s policy positions on enforcement – initially set out in a 2014 report – remain the right ones.
As a result the LSB has developed new strategic priorities in this area. These are:
- timeliness of enforcement processes;
- effective and consistent use of interim sanctions; and
- assurance of the quality of enforcement decisions by regulatory bodies.
Legal Services Board Chief Executive, Neil Buckley said:
“ Effective enforcement functions are vital to consumer and public confidence in regulated services. We are encouraged that the BSB and SRA are committed to ongoing improvement and we will continue to monitor their progress.
Over the coming years, we will focus on the timeliness and quality assurance of the regulatory bodies’ enforcement action, as well as their effective use of interim sanctions to protect consumers. We will also consider whether there are any developments in regulatory enforcement outside of the legal sector that we can learn from, to inform our future approach and expectations.”
The new strategic priorities and ongoing monitoring of the actions and improvements identified in the report will be pursued through the LSB’s regulatory performance work. The LSB will also introduce a new workstream to learn from cross-sector approaches to regulatory enforcement processes.
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Notes for editors:
- The Enforcement in legal services regulation report can be found here.
- The Regulatory performance: Transitional assessment review report can be found here.
- The March 2014 report on regulatory sanctions and appeals processes in the legal sector 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 ten 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 Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is an approved regulator for probate activities only but does not currently authorise anyone to offer this service.
- As at 1 April 2017, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 148,690 solicitors, 15,281 barristers, 6,809 chartered legal executives and 5,958 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The UK legal sector turnover was £35 billion per annum (2018) which is up 25% in cash terms since 2012. For more information see here.