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LSB: SRA board must have lay majority

15 December 2009

The Legal Services Board has published its final rules on the new regulatory framework applicable to the legal sector from January 2010 confirming the requirement that the boards of all regulators in the legal sector, including the Solicitors Regulation Authority, should have a lay majority.

The current SRA board and the new board, due to take appointment in January, have a solicitor majority.

The move to lay majority was resisted by the Law Society during the LSB’s September consultation and a compromise was reached allowing the chair of the board to be a lawyer.

Russell Wallman, director of government relations at the Law Society, said the society would not challenge the decision and would be discussing a suitable implementation timetable with the LSB.

One issue, he told Solicitors Journal, was whether the size of the board should be increased by bringing non-solicitors on board – and shift the balance in favour of non-solicitors – or whether the LSB would be prepared to wait until a vacancy arose among solicitor-members that could be filled with a lay member appointment.

The new rules also clarify the issues of shared services – including IT, human resources and accommodation – between the Law Society and the SRA.

Wallman said independent resolution mechanisms were in place in relation to shared services which were LSB-compliant.

The new rules will come into force on 1 January 2010, with regulators given four months to identify areas of non-compliance while operating under a ‘self certification’ regime. Frontline regulators will have a further six months to comply fully.

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Legal Aid Financial services & Tax