The 2001 Office for Fair Trading report, Competition in the Professions, identified a number of issues that had the potential to disadvantage consumers in the legal services sector. Following that work, Sir David Clementi undertook an independent review of the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales. His 2004 report highlighted the need for a new oversight body to bring much-needed consistency and clarity to the regulation of lawyers, and a sharper focus on the interests of consumers. That body, the Legal Services Board, was subsequently established under the Legal Services Act 2007. The Act sets up a framework that includes eight regulatory objectives which will ensure a clear focus on regulation in the public interest.
A principle underlying the Legal Services Act is that the legal profession should pay for the LSB and the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), which is the body that provides the Legal Ombudsman service. Accordingly, the LSB is required to impose a levy on the approved regulators and that levy covers the full cost of running the LSB and OLC.
The LSB is independent both of government and the profession. Our Board has a lay Chairman and a lay majority, meaning that its membership brings to the table the perspective of non-lawyers. While the LSB is part of the public sector, it operates independently of government. This was important as maintenance of the rule of law was thought to depend on the regulation of lawyers being handled independently of government.
No. The Law Society is the professional representative body for solicitors in England and Wales. The LSB oversees the work of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is the independent regulatory arm of The Law Society.
Entry to the legal profession has become highly competitive, with those wishing to enter greatly outnumbering the places available. We have been working collaboratively with approved regulators and Skills for Justice to developing a map of the current qualification routes and create profiles of each branch of the legal profession which falls under the oversight regulation of the LSB. Each profile appears in the legal services section of Skills for Justice Career Pathways portal which provides information on careers within the justice system.