Sir David Clementi published his final report in December 2004. At that time, the Government confirmed that they broadly accepted Sir David’s recommendations. In October 2005, the Government published their White Paper “The Future of Legal Services: Putting Consumers First”, which was essentially a substantive response to Sir David’s final report. The Government subsequently introduced the Legal Services Bill to Parliament on 23 November 2006. While the Bill contains much more detail when compared with Sir David’s original report, the proposals for the most part are based on his blueprint for reform.
As part of reforming the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales, the Bill will make it possible for lawyers to provide their services in new ways. This will include lawyers forming partnerships or other business structures with other types of lawyers (eg solicitors and barristers) and with non-lawyers. External investment will also be possible. This will provide an opportunity for all firms to change their business structures to enable them to draw more effectively on non-legal expertise and external financing to modernise and improve their business systems and infrastructure. It could also provide smaller firms with new ways of reaching a wider consumer base, which could act as a means for those operating at the margins to become more efficient and compete more effectively with larger or more well established firms.