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Kenny hits back at 'micro-management' claims

4 April 2012

Chris Kenny, chief executive of the Legal Services Board, has hit back at claims from the Bar Council that the LSB is guilty of the micro-management of front-line regulators.

The Bar launched a stinging attack on the umbrella regulator in its response to the MoJ’s triennial review of the LSB, describing it as “a relatively large organisation which has largely outlived its original purpose” (see 2 April 2012).

The Bar Council said the LSB was never intended to be a professional or market regulator and “micro-management” was inconsistent with its supervisory role.

At a press briefing yesterday, Kenny said the LSB had only used its powers to issue statutory guidance three times in as many years.

Responding to calls for the LSB’s role to be “confined”, Kenny said: “What the LSB does and the size of the LSB is not determined by us.

“Taking 10 per cent of the cash out of your budget in a year is severely scaling back.”

Todd accused the LSB of making “vague and threatening” statements on the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) and trying to carve out a “front-line role” for itself on training, which had no foundation in the Legal Services Act.

Kenny said the umbrella regulator had only got involved because of a “real lack of dialogue” on education and training, “with no-one actually looking at the market in its current context rather than in 1971.”

However, he said that, compared to other professions, the law did “quite well” on equality, with the challenge being to “follow through” improvements in the diversity of trainee solicitors so it was reflected more fully in those becoming partners.

Kenny said firms publishing their own data on diversity was a more powerful way of making change happen than direct intervention.

He said he was less interested in asking “theological” questions about the ideal relationship between regulators and professional bodies, than in whether this had any impact in the real world.

Kenny added that part of the reason for the “resilience” of the legal industry during the recession could be explained by the “stickiness” of the market and the fact that information was not getting out to consumers to enable them to shop around.

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