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Consumers need single regulator, panel says

Move 'would not automatically lead to fusion'

2 September 2013

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Move 'would not automatically lead to fusion'

The current system of legal regulation is a "confusing maze where customers can find themselves at a dead end" the LSB's consumer panel has said this morning, as it called for a single regulator.

However, the panel said, in its response to the MoJ's review of the future of regulation, that it did not believe this would "automatically lead to fusion of the profession or undermine an independent Bar".

The panel said that various models of regulation were possible in the future, but "any suggestion of a return to self-regulation based around the professional bodies" should be ruled out.

"Our lead candidate for a future regulatory model is a single regulator for the legal services market. The panel considers it would be possible to design this while respecting differences between branches of the profession.

"It would not automatically lead to the fusion of the profession or undermine an independent bar, as some may claim.

"Instead, it would better reflect the changing professional boundaries happening now, as seen in rule changes designed to allow different types of lawyer to compete with each other for the same business and in new business structures that combine disciplines."

The panel said a further strength of the single regulator model was that it would offer full independence from the professions, giving consumers confidence that regulation was protecting them, not lawyers.

Elisabeth Davies, chair of the panel, added: "The current system isn't delivering the outcomes consumers need, offering instead a confusing maze where consumers can find themselves at a dead end due to gaps in redress and regulation.

"The patchwork of regulators is an expensive duplication of effort that no-one can afford to persevere with.

"The Legal Services Act introduced welcome competition reforms but passported in the old regulatory structures - as the market and consumer behaviour has changed, these structures now look increasingly out-of-date."

The panel recommended that the MoJ give the LSB the task of finding the right way forward.

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