Law Society voices concerns over consumer protection
News a key legal regulator has given the go-ahead for an unregulated business to start employing solicitors to advise its clients was met with alarm by the Law Society of England and Wales which said rules were being relaxed without proper scrutiny.
HR company Croner is the first unregulated business allowed to employ practising solicitors that are able to advise its clients. The change has been made possible by the waiver issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) as part of its innovation ‘safe space’ last month, enabling Croner to offer training contracts.
Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws said: “Ad hoc regulation is no regulation at all.
“This waiver of the usual rules for one particular company allows a fundamental change to the regulatory framework by the back door. This is a change which has been widely opposed by both the profession and consumers.
“A rule change with such far-reaching consequences for client protection should be reviewed by the Legal Services Board to ensure it doesn’t harm the public interest before being introduced.
“If a solicitor works in an unregulated, profit-making entity their clients cannot rely on a regulated guarantee of robust professional indemnity insurance, access to the solicitors’ compensation fund, or legal professional privilege.
“It benefits nobody if regulatory change is introduced piecemeal and without proper scrutiny. Regulation exists to protect consumers, providing consistency and certainty. It preserves the strong global reputation of our legal system.
“If the protection afforded by a solicitor is no longer certain, trust in the profession may be eroded and in future, fewer people may seek legal advice at crucial points in their life.
“The SRA must stop eroding client protections.”