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Law Society

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of reports by the Legal Services Ombudsman, they have proposals to regulate the Law Society so as to prevent the solicitors and managers currently responsible for its operation from serving on the Solicitors Regulation Authority. [HL838]

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the regulatory arm of the Law Society and it is independent of government.

In the future, under the Legal Services Bill, the Legal Services Board (LSB) will provide strong and independent oversight of the legal profession. Approved regulators such as the Law Society will be required to separate their regulatory and representative functions. This is to ensure that consumers have confidence in the new framework. Under Clause 29 of the Bill, the board is required to set rules on the regulatory arrangements of approved regulators, including how the separation of the regulatory and representative functions should be achieved.

The detail of an approved regulator's internal governance, including who sits on the regulatory board, should be a matter for detailed rules rather than primary legislation. A “one size fits all” approach would not be appropriate, given the difference in nature of the approved regulators and the activities they regulate. The LSB will have the right to authorise and to de-authorise approved regulators like the Law Society and the Bar Council; and will have a range of other powers (for example, setting regulatory targets, censuring approved regulators, imposing financial penalties and directing the approved regulators to take specific action) where a regulator is failing.