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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Former MP and SRA board member appointed as CLSB chair

Former MP and SRA board member appointed as CLSB chair


David Heath, a former Lib Dem MP and SRA board member, has been appointed as chair of the Costs Lawyer Standards Board

David Heath, a former MP and senior independent director on the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) board, has been appointed as the new chair of the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB). 

The CLSB is the independent regulator of costs lawyers, which sets and maintains standards of professional conduct for costs lawyers. The board is made up of 5 members, the majority of which are lay members.

Heath succeeds Steve Winfield, who acted as chair for seven years. He was a Liberal Democrat MP for 18 years and served as deputy leader of the House of Commons and as Minister of State at DEFRA, before stepping down in 2015. 

Heath worked principally in home affairs and criminal justice, shadowed the Lord Chancellor and served on the justice select committee. He was also on the committee that scrutinised what became the Legal Services Act 2007. 

Before Heath entered into politics, he qualified as an optician and worked in the public sector. Since retiring as an MP, he has taken up a number of non-executive roles, including for the Consumer Council for Water, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and on an NHS clinical commissioning group. 

While on the SRA board, Heath chaired the equality, diversity and inclusion committee, assisted with re-writing the SRA handbook and was instrumental in the move towards the new SQE qualification.

Heath said: “My experience made the CLSB an attractive opportunity. Its effectiveness has improved significantly over the last 18 months, as recognised by the Legal Services Board, and my role is to ensure that the public is properly protected while regulating Costs Lawyers in a fair and proportionate way. 

“We will not be regulating for the sake of it – only where it has a positive impact on the public and/or the profession.”

Claire Green, chair of the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL), a membership body for costs lawyers, commented: “David has the perfect mix of experience and qualities for this post. There are big issues facing our profession as a small but important corner of the legal market, and David’s know-how should help steer us through them. The ACL looks forward to maintaining the constructive dialogue it has developed with the regulator.”

Heath has said that he will be “pressing the case for the title of ‘Costs Lawyer’ to have statutory protection, and for the work of Costs Lawyers to be reserved legal activities”, changes that were supported last year in a report on the regulation of the legal profession by Professor Stephen Mayson.