Proposed new public and consumer interest tests for regulation in a diverse market – will the Legal Services Board discussion paper mean an increase in reserved legal activities or a reduction in regulatory restrictions?
The Legal Services Board recently launched a discussion paper concerning the nature and reach of legal services regulation. The new proposed approach will put public and consumer interest at the heart of the matter, indicating whether activities should be added or removed from the current list of reserved legal activities.
The Legal Services Board have concerns that there are different levels of protection for consumers between different legal services. The result of the work carried out by the Legal Services Board will help establish a consistent approach when it comes to decisions as to whether a specific legal service will warrant “reservation” and the protection levels that this status will bring to consumers.
David Edmonds, Legal Services Board Chairman, said:
“Ensuring that consumers get a good deal from all advice services is important, but there is currently no rationale to underpin substantially different levels of consumer protection. Because of this, we are reviewing the appropriateness of the list of services which are reserved to lawyers. This will underpin decisions on reserving activities when protections are currently insufficient, or un-reserving activities where the level of risk means that consumers can be protected by less burdensome restrictions.
Liberalisation is already happening with regard to ownership of law firms, external investment and control. That liberalisation will accelerate as these proposals begin to take effect. But it needs to be underpinned by the right consumer protections and oversight, in particular proper redress from firms and the Legal Ombudsman. Whichever direction we take, the objective is simple: the legal services market must work for the consumer and the public, for it is they to whom we all, regulators and professionals alike, are accountable.”
To read the discussion paper, visit the Legal Services Board website
. Your views on the paper are welcomed by Friday 4th November 2011.
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