The Legal Services Board (LSB) 2023/24 Business Plan has been published outlining its key objectives over the next 12 months; the third such plan the LSB have released since its “Reshaping Legal Services’ strategy was published in March 2021.
“Reshaping Legal Services” has seen the introduction of more stringent measures on legal service providers to create greater transparency for consumers, including the publishing of pricing, and an ongoing review into the future of the Ongoing Competence professional development programme.
Alongside its other work, which includes the monitoring of regulator performance, oversight of the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal and a commitment to create “effective disciplinary and enforcement processes to ensure outcomes that build public confidence, deliver fairness for professionals and uphold proper standards of conduct and competence” the 2023/24 plan outlines 5 further key areas of development.
- Access to Justice: consideration of the role of regulation in improving access to the publicly-funded justice system and scope future work in this area.
- Market analysis: Through increased horizon scanning, the development a better understanding of the risks and issues facing the legal services sector and how they may impact on delivery of the strategy.
- Consumer vulnerability: Building on the LSB’s consumer research published in 2022, a better understanding of best practice across the sector and principles on how to support consumers in vulnerable circumstances.
- Evaluation of IGR: Evaluate the operation and effectiveness of the Internal Governance Rules implemented in 2019.
- Review of LSB enforcement policy: Review the statement of policy on taking enforcement action to ensure that the policy aligns with the LSB’s regulatory approach.
Commenting on the plan, outgoing Chair of the LSB Dr Helen Phillips said
“This is the LSB’s third business plan since we published the Reshaping Legal Services strategy and my last as Chair. I am proud of our progress so far in delivering fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services for consumers, but there is more that regulation can do to make sure people who need legal services can get the help and advice they need.”
“We were grateful for the contributions made by stakeholders across England and Wales and the strong spirit of collaboration that was clear from responses to our consultation. By working together, we will ensure that the profession is more diverse and reflects those it serves, that high standards of professional ethics inspire public trust and confidence and that technology and innovation are harnessed to better meet the needs of all consumers, the profession and society.”
Dr Phillips has been replaced by Alan Kershaw, who has taken up the post from 1st April. He added
“I look forward to working with stakeholders across the sector to ensure legal services are as good as they can be and that people can access legal services at the critical times when they need them. This plan recognises the range of challenges and opportunities facing the sector and sets out our ambition to play our part in addressing those. It was developed following a public consultation, and we have sought to give priority to where the LSB and regulation can have the greatest impact.”