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CLC urges government not to give up on legal service modernisation

07 May 2014

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers was disappointed with the Ministry of Justice’s announcement that it plans to do nothing more in relation to the review of regulation of legal services on 1 May 2014.

We are surprised that a review under the Red Tape Challenge deregulatory agenda is not able to identify any measures that could be changed as part of a portmanteau deregulation bill. But even without primary legislation, the consumer benefits of further modernisation could be considerable. The Legal Services Act 2007 needs more time to bed down, but the Legal Services Board and front line regulators should be working together with the support of the Ministry to remove obstacles to change and improvement.

We need the active support of the Ministry of Justice to deliver the gains promised by the 2007 Act. A great deal can be achieved through secondary legislation, yet changes which already have the support of the Legal Services Board and Ministry of Justice are being delivered at a frustratingly slow pace.  We have, for some time, been asking the Ministry to deliver faster progress in the consumer interest.

The CLC is the specialist regulator of conveyancing and probate, the legal is used by the greatest number of people during their lives and which support a key driver of the economy, the housing market. As such, the CLC is keen to support innovation in the market place with the application of rigorous regulatory standards and enforcement for the public and consumer benefit. 

Anna Bradley, Chair of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers said: “The CLC proposed changes to the regulatory framework that would not require primary legislation, but which do require the support and assistance of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Services Board, such as changes to Professional Indemnity Insurance requirements to enable easier movement of practices between regulators and a review of compensation fund arrangements to secure better consumer protection.

“We are currently seeking changes to our own powers as part of the wider modernisation of legal services. Those changes have the support of the Ministry and the Legal Services Board and require only secondary legislation, but the Ministry has so far not been able to facilitate their implementation in a way that supports modernisation. 

“As the only purely regulatory body in the legal services market, we urge the government not to lose sight of the consumer interest and the significant benefits to the economy promised by a modernised and reformed legal services sector. There are steps that can be taken without primary legislation but where the Legal Services Board or Ministry of Justice will have a role to play in building consensus for positive change. We are disappointed this opportunity has not been seized.”