The Legal Services Board (LSB) published its 2022-2023 business plan on Wednesday, outlining it will continue to focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) and technology and innovation in the profession.
Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said:
“We welcome the LSB’s continued focus on D&I and technology and innovation, which align with the Law Society’s priorities. We are also pleased to see a focus on addressing the Legal Ombudsman’s (LeO) performance failures.
We hope the LSB’s plan to review its 2016 rules and guidance on first-tier complaint handling will help ensure it supports good outcomes and aligns with best practice.
On Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) and compensation funds, we appreciate the LSB taking an interest in this matter. PII is the largest regulatory expense facing most of our members and we are keen to reduce its cost while maintaining high levels of protection for consumers of legal services. However, the Law Society believes that promoting and protecting the interests of consumers should, at all times, be the guiding principle in any decisions about PII and the compensation fund. Working with our members to improve risk management should help to manage the costs of PII.”
The LSB has a new project examining the rule of law and regulation. This will recognise the fundamental role legal professionals play in society and define the role of legal services regulation in supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law. Boyce added:
“We agree with the LSB that legal services are central to upholding the rule of law, supports the effective administration of justice and protects democratic values. We would also be keen for the LSB to explore how the role of legal services regulation can support the rule of law, beyond setting professional rules and ensuring the system for complaining about legal professionals is robust.
It could also look at possible strategies to support lawyers in their duties to their clients and in court, while their work on supporting the rule of law could help the legal profession when established legal processes are under attack.”
“Given the current uncertain political and economic climate, we welcome the flexible approach the LSB is adopting to delivering its business plan and addressing upcoming issues.
The overall economic health of the sector has been strong, but the war in Ukraine has had an impact on the overall market confidence. The lasting effects of Covid-19 continue to be felt by small firms, including high street practices and sole practitioners, which face challenging economic conditions and will struggle most with the increased cost of living and rising financial pressures.
We are keen on working closely with the LSB, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and others on the delivery of the business plan to help address some of the challenges the profession and the sector are facing.”