Law Society Admonishes SRA And LSB Approved Tiered Solicitor Proposal
As the Legal Services Board approve the SRA’s proposal to allow multiple tiers of solicitors, the Law Society have warned that it may slacken existing rules and reduce public protection.
The rule change will permit sole solicitors to act outside the protections of a recognised sole practice and would not be subject to entity regulation. The Law Society, Citizens Advice and the Legal Ombudsman all expressed concerns that the approved proposals will remove some of the protection that clients benefit from if they use a regulated firm.
Christina Blacklaws, Law Society President, said: “We believe today’s rule change is a serious error.
“The regulators have sacrificed the best interests of the public they exist to protect. They have ignored unprecedented levels of opposition from consumer bodies, legal experts and the extensive evidence of the risks of deregulation of this kind in this market.
“The door is now open for practitioners to cut their costs by slashing essential client protections that until today have provided cast-iron reassurance for clients.
“A high street where different tiers of solicitor, with different levels of protections offer the same services to passers-by will make it more difficult for people who need legal advice to reach informed choices often at very traumatic moments in their lives, such as divorce and bereavement.
“Flexibility for practitioners should never come at the expense of protection and clarity for consumers.
“This ill-conceived scheme creates an overly complex marketplace for legal services, jeopardising the public interest and the rule of law under the guise of driving access to justice. Yet there is no evidence deregulation will achieve this.
“On the contrary, the most vulnerable are the most likely to fall foul of a less-shackled marketplace for legal services.
“Neither the LSB nor the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which pushed these changes through, has developed any strategy to mitigate the risk that multiple solicitor brands will result in consumers and the public, particularly the most vulnerable, being confused and losing confidence in the system.”
Will this tiered system dilute the protections for consumers? Will it unfairly punish those in regulated firms?