The Legal Services Board (“the LSB”) has today published its annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2020. The report charts the latest phase in the delivery of the Board’s priorities under its 2018-21 three-year strategy. It outlines our progress with activities that promote and protect the interests of people who need legal services.
During the final weeks of the year under review, the LSB, like the wider legal services sector was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The projects undertaken throughout 2019/20 have put the organisation in a strong position to support recovery and lead a strategic reshaping of legal services to better meet the needs of society. Key projects and activities included:
- Covid-19 response – Ensuring the LSB did not create any regulatory burdens and engaging with regulatory bodies to provide advice and support.
- Public Legal Education (PLE) – Publishing research that identified gaps in public knowledge and establishing a baseline of legal capability.
- Individual legal needs survey – publishing the most detailed insights yet available into the legal issues people face, the responses they take and the help they get.
- Ongoing competence – undertaking a review of how legal regulators ensure that the legal professionals they regulate remain competent throughout their careers.
- Regulatory approaches to technology – publishing a series of analyses and podcasts on technology and regulation.
- Fulfilling obligations to monitor and make statutory decisions on matters emerging from the regulators, the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal:
- In July 2019, the LSB published the revised Internal Governance Rules (IGR) and new accompanying statutory guidance, setting out the requirements for the approved regulators of legal services to ensure the separation of regulatory and representative functions.
- In December 2019, the LSB published a progress report on the performance of the regulatory bodies in meeting the regulatory performance framework outcomes.
- In March 2020, the LSB appointed Elisabeth Davis as the OLC’s new Chair. The LSB has tasked her with rapidly improving performance of the Legal Ombudsman.
Looking forward, the LSB has embarked on a process for developing a new three-year strategy for the legal services sector for 2021-24. The LSB has started engaging widely to ensure it hears from and considers views and evidence from the widest range of people. The strategy will identify activities that the LSB and others must undertake to ensure everyone can access and trust the legal services they need.
Matthew Hill, Chief Executive of the LSB, said:
“This annual report illustrates the LSB’s absolute commitment to reshaping legal services to better serve society. Over the last year, we have removed unnecessary regulatory barriers, encouraged innovation, and made clear our determination to protect consumers through an effective system of independent regulation.
“As we continue to support the sector’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, front and centre in our mind is ensuring legal services are accessible and meet the needs of everyone who needs them.”
Dr Helen Phillips, Chair of the LSB, said:
“Like everyone across the legal sector, our people and our activities were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, that has not dampened our resolve – in fact, it strengthens it. Our work over the last year provides a strong platform for us to radically improve access to justice, support the rule of law and ensure consumer interests are at the heart of everything we all do.
“Central to this is our renewed focus on diversity and inclusion, and our commitment to creating a thriving profession that better reflects the society it serves.
“We will also ensure that there are effective systems of redress for legal consumers in the small number of cases when things go wrong and increase people’s confidence in the services they receive.
“As we develop a new strategy for the legal services sector, we look forward to engaging with more people and sharing insights with the profession that take regulation upstream, increase transparency within legal services and ensure everyone can access and trust the legal services they need.”