LSB should renew focus on its core activities, says The Law Society

The Legal Services Board (LSB) should renew focus on its core activities, the Law Society of England and Wales said in response to its 2024/2025 business plan consultation.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said that they would “strongly encourage the LSB to renew focus on its core activities” and “only take on more workstreams based on regulatory need or gaps” in responding to consumer needs. He continued:

“Care should be taken to ensure work isn’t being duplicated by other stakeholders already engaged in research and policy development on common strategic priorities such as access to justice, upholding the rule of law and ethics. The LSB’s continued work on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) aligns with the Law Society’s priorities.

The oversight regulator has listened to our feedback and plans to have a greater focus on its core function of protecting and promoting the public interest, supporting the rule of law and maintaining the professional principles.

It should also focus on the performance issues of the Legal Ombudsman and increased monitoring and evaluation of the Office for Legal Complaints, to ensure they are fair, transparent and consumers and the profession have confidence in seeking redress.”

On proposed workstreams for 2024/2025, Nick Emmerson said:

“The LSB should have the necessary capacity and capability to conduct its work as part of its core oversight functions.

However, the resources required to manage the dispute between the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and CILEx Regulation and its independent review of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) intervention into Axiom Ince are not necessarily representative of the usual work undertaken by the LSB. Any increase in their work remit and resources should be kept under review.”

On access to justice and the rule of law, Nick Emmerson concluded:

“We are pleased access to justice is front and centre of this year’s business plan.

The LSB can provide a useful voice to highlight the issue of access to justice to government, especially as it has become progressively worse over time. The continued freeze in legal aid rates is accelerating an exodus out of legal aid practice, resulting in advice deserts* across the country.

We encourage the oversight regulator to consider its role in market surveillance and addressing the risk of market failure as a matter of urgency. We would be keen to have further discussions about how legal service regulation can support the rule of law beyond setting professional rules and ensuring a robust system for determining complaints against legal professionals.

We look forward to working closely with the LSB the SRA and others on the delivery of the business plan to help address some of the challenges the profession and the sector are facing.”

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