The Legal Service Board has published its assessments of the action plans produced by regulators in response to the final report of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) legal service market study.
Our assessment is that all the action plans provide a sufficient starting point from which transparency reforms can be delivered. Regulators are collaborating well to make progress on joint initiatives and to deliver a coherent approach in parts of the market where multiple regulators operate.
Commenting on the review Neil Buckley, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Board said:
“It is encouraging that all the regulators have produced action plans which we consider represent a sufficient starting point for the necessary reforms which will increase market transparency.
Our assessment of the action plans welcomes the collaboration between regulators and the leadership shown by individual regulators in different aspects of this agenda.
We also highlight some areas where more work is needed by some regulators to address the challenges outlined by the CMA. These areas include understanding current levels of transparency, finding the right mix of mandatory requirements and voluntary guidance and enabling consumers to compare the quality of legal services as well as price.
Many of the frontline regulators will shortly be consulting on their proposals. We would encourage the professions, consumer groups and others to engage in these important consultation exercises.”
For further information, please contact the LSB’s Communications Manager, Vincent McGovern (020 7271 0068).
Notes for editors:
1. The LSB’s overarching comments on the regulators’ Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) action plans can be found here. The assessments of each individual regulator’s action plan can be found here.
2. Regulators, where relevant, are shortly expected to consult on proposals. For more information please see their action plans and check back on their websites for consultations.
3. ICAEW has advised us that it currently re-scoping its action plan in light of the Lord Chancellor’s decision on its application to become an approved regulator and licensing authority for additional reserved activities. We believe the ICAEW should continue with the actions it was planning to take in response to the CMA’s recommendations to it and with the aim of delivering the important benefits to consumers which increased transparency will deliver. We will discuss this issue with them so we can conclude our assessment of their action plan.
4. The CMA’s final report and recommendations and further information about the process can be found here.
5. The CMA’s recommendations to regulators can be found on pages 277 to 282 of the report.
6. The LSB’s response to the recommendations of CMA report can be found here.
7 The LSB’s initial response, and subsequent comments, to the CMA regarding this study can be found here.
8. The Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
9. The LSB oversees nine approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners. The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the General Council of the Bar, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and the Association of Costs Lawyers. They have subsequently being joined as an approved regulator by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants are listed as approved regulators in relation only to reserved probate activities.
10. As at 1 April 2017, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 148,690 solicitors, 15,281 barristers, 6,809 chartered legal executives and 5,958 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing. The UK legal sector turnover was £31 billion per annum (2016) which is up 19% in cash terms since 2012. For more information see here.