Monday, 21 June 2010

A Changing Legal World

In December 2004, Sir David Clementi completed his review of the provision of legal services.  The eventual outcome was the  Legal Services Act 2007 some of which has already been implemented with more to come later in 2010 and in 2011.  The aim of the Act is to liberalise and regulate the market for legal services and to encourage competition between law providers.

 Three fundamental reforms are built into the Act:

  1. Legal Disciplinary Practices - see Law Society and Law Gazette (Bar sanctions LDPs)
  2. The creation of a Legal Services Board (to oversee regulation of all branches of the legal profession) and an Office for Legal Complaints (operating an Ombudsman Scheme).
  3. Alternative Business Structures (ABS) and their licensing. ABS will enable different professionals to join together in the provision of services.  External ownership of legal businesses (e.g. by flotation on the stock exchange etc) will be possible.  See also Legal Week 23rd February 2010 - "LSB greenlights ABS for 2011 launch"
On top of all these changes, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is looking at changing the method of regulation to one which focusses on "outcomes" as opposed to mere compliance with rules - see SRA.

The changes are far-reaching and complex and the above is, of necessity, a mere outline.   Criticisms exist - e.g. is there really a need for so many regulatory bodies?  Potentially, there are considerable benefits for both lawyers and the public.  External investment in law businesses will become possible and enable expansion to be funded.  The public should benefit as a result of competition for services.  At least, that is the theory.  The views of readers on this would be most welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment