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Tuesday, 10 June 2014




The Legal Services Board – the independent body overseeing the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales – has published its Annual Report and Accounts for the year 2013/14. The document was laid before Parliament earlier today, 10 June 2014.

The report covers the fourth full year, and sixth in total, of the post Legal Services Act 2007 regulatory regime – which strips away lawyers’ outdated self-regulation and puts independence, liberalisation and a public and consumer interest focus at the heart of regulators’ objectives.

The annual report describes how the LSB delivered the priorities set out in its 2013/14 Business Plan and its statutory objectives highlighting:

  • the Lord Chancellor’s approval and acceptance of recommendations that, once implemented, have the potential to stimulate significantly more competition in legal services1
  • the continued embedding of independent regulation in legal services in England and Wales2
  • developing our radical ‘blueprint for regulatory reform’ in response to the Ministry of Justice’s call for evidence on legal services regulation which includes our proposal for how the LSB and other regulators can be phased out over time.

The report also looks forward, in particular to LSB work outlining a new three year strategic plan for the period 2015-18 and work interrogating whether unnecessary cost and complexity are added to the legal services market by regulators and legislators - or by risk averse firms exercising excessive caution.

The report also outlines the significant contribution made by the LSB to understanding the legal services market from the perspective of small businesses and their legal needs and our recommendations, made together with the Legal Services Consumer Panel and Mencap, on the advice people with learning disabilities need regarding the law.

Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said:

"We are committed to the better regulation of legal services and ensuring the protection of consumers.

Following the call for evidence, we remain committed to reducing the burden of regulation on legal practitioners. We want to promote innovation, competition and growth, whilst ensuring standards.

The LSB continues to challenge the approved regulators to raise these standards. It is important that a modernised approach is taken with the LSB playing an important role in this.

I congratulate the LSB and its staff on its continued hard work this year."

Chairman of the Legal Services Board, Sir Michael Pitt said:

"The central role of the LSB is to drive improvements in regulation across the legal sector. Embedding independent regulation in legal services in England and Wales is key to this. In the past year the LSB has shown it is serious about this and will fight any attempt to turn back the clock.

I have taken this job to help change the legal services market. As the LSB has outlined in its ‘Blueprint’ response more change is needed to deliver a better legal services market that provides better access to justice. For example change is needed in the mechanisms for market entry, regulation needs to be further detached from the influence of the provider towards the consumer, and simplification at every level needs to be delivered. I intend that the LSB should continue to pursue these goals.

As the market changes in the years to come, there may indeed come a time when the LSB will have fulfilled its role and the front line regulators are demonstrating significant simplification and improved performance, removing the need for the current structure of oversight. Until that time comes we will do as the Lord Chancellor has suggested recently and will continue to work towards that point when the number of regulators regulating the legal services market can fall significantly."

1The LSB’s recommendation that the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) should become an approved regulator, and with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, become licensing authorities for probate activities. In addition to the recommendation that the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) be designated as licensing authorities.
2Via the LSB’s changing of the Internal Governance Rules (IGRs) to stipulate lay chairs for most of the regulatory bodies and its investigation into the Bar Council’s failure to comply with the IGRs in dealing with the Bar Standards Board.


For more information please contact the LSB’s Communications Manager Vincent McGovern on 020 7271 0068 / 0795 622 6562.

Notes for editors:

  1. The Legal Services Board’s Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14 can be found here.
  2. The LSB operates at nil cost to the public purse and its expenditure in 2013/14 was £4.27m against a budget of £4.49m resulting in an under spend of £0.23m. 100% of this under spend will be used to reduce the levy for the approved regulators for the coming year.
  3. It highlights the efficiency of the organisation with just 30 members of staff (as at 31 March 2014) and an average annual sickness absence levels at approximately 3.2 days per person.
  4. The Legal Services Act (“The Act”) created the Legal Services Board 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.
  5. The LSB oversees eight approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual lawyers. 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 and the Association of Costs Lawyers.
  6. 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.
  7. As at 1 April 2014, the legal profession comprised 138,243 solicitors, 326 alternative business structures, 15,279 barristers, 7,927 chartered legal executives and 5,404 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The sector was valued at £29.2 billion in 2013 (total turnover).