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Law Society considers Hunt Review in private

4 November 2009

Today’s Law Society Council meeting is due to consider Lord Hunt’s report into the regulation of legal services – in private.

The report, published on 5 October, recommends a light-touch approach to regulation, with larger firms allowed to self-govern on the understanding that they already have strong internal regulatory systems in place.

In due course, other firms able to demonstrate similarly robust levels of internal compliance would also be allowed to opt into Lord Hunt’s Authorised Internal Regulation system.

Both the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the LSB have broadly welcomed the Hunt report.

But so far the Law Society, which commissioned the report, has not officially commented.

The council meeting this afternoon will be the first time the society will officially consider the report.

The item is listed under Part II, the confidential part of the agenda during which the more sensitive issues are discussed away from the public eye.

This will allow the society to consider freely one of the more sensitive recommendations in the report: its own break up.

Recommendations 15 to 22 in the Hunt report propose radical changes at the Law Society.

One calls for the establishment of “a clear and distinctive identity for its professional body, independent from that of the corporate Law Society, which also includes the SRA and the shared services functions”.

Another proposes the setting up of a corporate board “bringing together representatives of the legal profession; representatives of the operationally independent regulatory pillar of the Law Society; and suitably experienced and knowledgeable independent members, all appointed by means of a suitably transparent, independent and rigorous appointments process”.

Further on, Lord Hunt recommends the corporate board should “oversee the appointment of the chairman and board of the SRA” and “have oversight of the efficient running of each constituent part of the Law Society”.

The SRA board expressed support for these recommendations at its last meeting in October.

And earlier this year the LSB proposed ring-fencing the SRA, though it would be allowed to share corporate services with the Law Society.

The Law Society’s response at the time was that the LSB’s proposals were “a curate’s egg”.

Against this background, it would not be surprising for the Law Society to view Lord Hunt’s recommendations with caution and decide not to act on them – at this stage at least.

Meanwhile, the number of firms in the Assigned Risks Pool has fallen from 321 last week to 316 this week, alleviating fears that the number could rise to 500 by the end of the year.

Categorised in:

Risk & Compliance Local government