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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Legal regulators must improve

Legal regulators must improve


The legal super-regulator has challenged the UK's legal regulators to drive up performance and improve governance, even though improvements have already been made

The legal super-regulator has challenged the UK’s legal regulators to drive up performance and improve governance, even though improvements have already been made. 

In its annual reports on the performance of the eight legal services regulatory bodies, the Legal Services Board (LSB) found unmet standards, though two – including the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) – met them all.

The LSB looked at 27 outcomes across the five standards applicable to all the regulators under the Legal Services Act 2007.

The standards are regulatory approach, authorisation, supervision, enforcement, and well-led (governance and leadership).

It found that the performance of most of the regulatory bodies improved over the past year, with the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and the SRA singled out for having met all required outcomes.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip, said: “We welcome the LSB’s assessment that we have met all their performance standards in a year that has been challenging for everyone.”

THe LSB said all bodies are meeting the required standard in respect of the new outcome assessing regulatory independence, which applies to both regulatory bodies and approved regulators.

They are, said the LSB, generally performing well against the authorisation, supervision and enforcement standards.

But achievement in meeting the required standard for outcomes under the regulatory approach and well-led standards fell short.

The LSB is now considering a thematic review next year, depending on the progress made in meeting the standards required.

It found that several not-met ratings related to the quality and clarity of applications for statutory approval of changes to regulatory arrangements and practicing certificate fees, so the LSB said it is reviewing the related rules and guidance.

Ongoing targeted reviews of the Bar Standard Board (BSB) and Faculty Office (FO) on performance against the well-led standard are due to conclude in early 2021.

LSB chief executive Matthew Hill said the LSB has seen “welcome improvement across the regulatory bodies, particularly in their enforcement of standards and increased independence”. 

“However, there continue to be areas where improvement is needed”, he added. 

“No regulatory body that is putting the public first in its decision-making and acting transparently to promote the regulatory objectives set out in the Act should have any difficulty in meeting the standards of good regulation.”

He said the LSB expected legal regulators to take the performance assessments as indicators of where improvements are needed “to ensure they have the right mechanisms in place to carry out their regulatory duties effectively and efficiently”.