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New LSB paper outlines options to reform the Legal Services Act

'The regulatory framework must be more efficient and effective,' says Sir Michael Pitt

27 July 2015

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The Legal Services Board (LSB) has today published a paper exploring options to reform the UK's Legal Services Act 2007.

The paper is the product of LSB-facilitated cross-regulator discussions over the past six months among all the legal regulators, chaired by Professor Stephen Mayson.

It says: "This paper is presented as the first collective undertaking by regulators in the legal services sector to consolidate their thinking and experience in this area, and to outline in an open-minded manner the alternatives to the status quo with a view to answering the simple question: what range of possibilities exist for the future?"

The paper considers a core set of issues that could frame possible future reform, such as:

  • the case for fundamental change to the Act including what should be regulated;

  • the rationale for sector-specific regulation;

  • the dynamics and tension between regulation of activities, individuals, entities and titles;

  • regulatory independence; and

  • the shape of the regulatory infrastructure.

"I very much welcome the recent indication by the Lord Chancellor that he wishes to review the Legal Services Act during the lifetime of this Parliament," said Sir Michael Pitt, chair of the Legal Services Board.

"Irrespective of any future reform, however, we recognise our responsibility to maximise the potential of the existing legal framework; indeed, we want the process of regulatory reform to accelerate.

"Whilst there may not be a 'burning platform' for emergency action, there is a compelling case to introduce a new regulatory settlement for the medium-term."

He continued: "Regulation has the potential to make a very real contribution to unlocking growth, increasing productivity and addressing the significant unmet need for legal services.

"To do so, the regulatory framework must be more efficient and effective in seeking to promote strong and fair competition. It has to be capable of responding to rapidly changing conditions in the market whilst also maintaining necessary protections for consumers and the public interest."

Commenting on the news, Paul Philip, chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, said: "The opportunity for joint discussion on the regulatory landscape is important and, as the LSB makes clear, this report does not represent collective or individual views. Our consistent view is that there is much more that can be achieved in the current legislative framework.

"Supporting growth and reducing bureaucracy are priorities for the SRA and we have done a great deal in the last 18 months. At a time when growth and innovation are critical, our focus is on what we can do now to free up firms to do business, while protecting the public."




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