LSB reports on performance of regulators in the legal services sector
The Legal Services Board has published its first assessments of the performance of regulators in the legal services sector emphasising the importance the LSB attaches to improving regulatory performance in the coming year.
The assessments have focused on five of the regulatory bodies operating in the sector:
- the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) which has been delegated regulatory responsibility by the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen (trading as the Association of Costs Lawyers – ACL);
- ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) which has been delegated regulatory responsibility by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX);
- the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg) which has been delegated regulatory responsibility by the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys;
- the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC); and
- the Master of the Faculties (the Faculty Office).
with a further report due in early 2013 into the remaining two. They represent a baseline from which future regulatory performance will be judged.
The LSB has concluded that there is a wide range of competence, both across the different regulators and within each of them individually.
Some regulators have demonstrated:
- a clear understanding of the need to adopt an approach to regulation that delivers an outcomes-focused code,
- clear risk assessment,
- active supervision against those risks, and
- robust enforcement when that is justified,
nevertheless a sustained drive to implementation is still needed.
The highest quality submissions, those of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and the Intellectual Property Regulatory Board, were notably challenging and self-reflective and commanded confidence, not least because they were underpinned by external review of their assessments.
However, the report concluded that more needs to be done to address common failings including:
- a general lack of understanding of the needs of consumers who use legal services;
- a lack of consumer engagement, and
- a failure to seek to identify the different risks in the different segments of the markets in which they regulate.
Chairman of the Legal Services Board, David Edmonds, said:
“Our vision for legal services regulation is one which imposes the lowest possible regulatory demands on legal services providers, consistent with safeguarding consumers, the rule of law the professional principles and the wider regulatory objectives. That means fewer rules, but better intelligence and targeted intervention.
“This challenging vision demands a more sophisticated approach to the regulation of legal services.
“A number of regulators are making significant progress. However substantial work will be required for each one to achieve their ambitions and significant improvement in consumer understanding and engagement will be required across the board if regulators are indeed to show that they can meet successfully the challenges that they face.”
The full regulatory assessment report can be found on the LSB web site at www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/Projects/pdf/regulatory_standards_assessment_of_five_of_seven_regulators.pdf