The Government has published its review of the operation of the Legal Services Board. The LSB regulates the regulators who cover solicitors (the SRA) and barristers (the BSB). It had been anticipated that the review of the LSB might recommend that it was no longer needed.
Items 1 and 7 of the recommendations are the most important because it is clear that the government is not completely confident that the SRA and the BSB are sufficiently independent of the professions and wants to place them under renewed scrutiny.
The recommendations are set out below.
- The functions of the LSB are still required by Government. The LSB should therefore retain its current functions.
- It is efficient and effective for the Consumer Panel to operate as an independent arm of the LSB and it should continue to do so.
- The functions of the LSB need to be delivered independently of Government and the professions. …. The LSB should therefore retain its current form…
- The Competition and Markets Authority’s Legal Services market study made recommendations to the LSB to oversee and report on frontline regulators implementation of remedies to improve consumer information and transparency. The LSB should enact these.
- To promote diversity in its organisation, the LSB should carry out a diversity survey of its staff and board, and publish the results at least every two years. The form of the survey and the level of information published must be determined with regard to appropriately preserving the anonymity of individuals.
- To ensure there is no perception that the LSB is carrying out actions beyond those necessary to fulfil its statutory functions, the LSB should: a) clearly highlight on published research how that research links to its objectives and statutory functions; and b) reflect further on its impact in its annual report, and visibly tie all work to either its statutory functions or the regulatory objectives.
- To ensure continued public and international confidence in the regulation of the legal sector, the LSB should use all of its powers to provide robust assurance on the separation of the frontline regulators from the representative functions of the Approved Regulators, including the use of its investigative powers where appropriate…
- Whilst undertaking its ongoing review of its process for assessing frontline regulators, the LSB should take into account the recommendations of the Cabinet Office’s Regulatory Futures review.
- To provide assurance on the efficiency of its organisational structure, the LSB should conduct a review of its senior staffing structure, with a view to establishing future efficiencies.