Chancery Lane warns of ‘anomalies’ in referral fee ban
The Law Society has warned of a ‘danger of anomalies’ in the government’s plan for banning referral fees. The Ministry of Justice is finalising the specifics of the ban, which will apply only to personal injury cases.
Payment and receipt of the fees will be prohibited by next April under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.
The Society supported a ban for all legal services, but its legal affairs and policy board was due to meet this week amid concerns that the current legislation is too wide in scope.
Policy board papers said: ‘The current drafting of the bill is likely to result in "joint marketing arrangements" being prohibited and there is also danger of other anomalies.’
The Law Society has already raised concerns about the specifics of the ban and has secured a promise from the MoJ that solicitor-to-solicitor payments will not be covered.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly has also stated, following lobbying from the profession, that the pooling of marketing resources will not breach the prohibition.
Meanwhile, talks are ongoing between the MoJ and the Solicitors Regulation Authority about how to police the ban.
The SRA has completed a consultation on how it will be enforced and its regulatory affairs board will discuss the outcome next Tuesday.