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Edmonds: ‘I want accountants to regulate litigation'

Application to regulate ABSs to be approved by LSB as a 'first step'

13 December 2013

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Application to regulate ABSs to be approved by LSB as a 'first step'

David Edmonds, chairman of the Legal Services Board, has said he looks forward to seeing accountants regulate litigation and other legal services.

Edmonds said that as a "first step", an application by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to regulate probate services and licence ABSs would be approved this week.

"The ICAEW's rationale for making the application is to allow its members to be authorised to do probate activities alongside related services (e.g. trust planning and estate administration) that they currently provide," Edmonds said.

"It will enable firms to offer a more integrated service to clients who, in non-contentious cases, will be able to use a single adviser which in turn should have an impact on the overall cost of the service for consumers and increase competition.

"This is a first step for the ICAEW and it is a very considerable step for liberalisation in the legal services market.

"I look forward to seeing the ICAEW moving on, in due course, from this beginning to regulating litigation and other legal services as we understand they hope to do."

Speaking at the Hertford regulation seminar earlier this week, Edmonds, who is leaving the LSB at the end of April, strongly criticised both the Law Society and the Bar Council for making "self-serving arguments" about a return to self-regulation.

He continued: "In their submissions to the Ministry of Justice review both the Law Society and Bar Council made the case for returning regulation to the professional bodies as a way of cutting the cost of regulation.

"This misses the point. What matters is not who regulates, but how they regulate. The problem is that self-regulation inevitably introduces more regulation not less through, for example, making greater attempts to restrict competition.

"This is how it was before the introduction of the Legal Services Act 2007. And it's hard to imagine why, in all likelihood, it would be different should self-regulation return.

"Let us remember that the complicated rule books and the significant quantity of poorly targeted and burdensome regulation that the LSB is trying to tackle was put in place before the LSB existed – by the professional bodies."

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Tax & Wealth structuring Wills, Trusts & Probate