The Legal Services Board (LSB) has called for a more consistent approach to tackling economic crime, throwing its support behind the “regulatory objective” proposed in section 155 of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill.
The regulatory objective would underline the importance of the LSB and other legal services regulators using their powers to prevent the involvement of regulated legal services providers in economic crime.
The LSB said the “lack of explicit reference” to economic crime in the current framework has “contributed to a position where the eight legal services regulators are taking different interpretations of the extent to which they should proactively focus on economic crime”.
This, they say, is exemplified in the response of regulators following the expansion of the economic sanctions regime:
“We have seen a wide range of responses, with some regulators far more ready than others to pursue proactive measures.”
The LSB said the regulatory objective would “put beyond doubt that identifying and preventing the involvement of legal professionals in economic crime is within the remit of legal services regulators, including the LSB”.
It also said it is supportive of wider measures in relation to extending the SRA’s powers to respond to economic crime, including its fining powers and powers to request information.
Any implementation of the regulatory objective would be “targeted and proportionate”:
“One tool that we could deploy to this end, would be a statutory policy statement. This would establish criteria that regulators would need to take account of when interpreting and implementing the objective.”