BSB signals support for independent regulators

Topics: Advocacy,Regulation and compliance,The Bar,Government & politics

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (7)
  • Save

Related images

  • chantal aimee doerries qc

The Bar Standards Board has signalled its support for the government’s proposals to make legal services regulators fully independent. 

Outlining its draft strategic plan for 2016-19, the BSB said that ‘ultimately’ there should be separation between the regulator and the representative body.

Advertisement

It said that separating the two would enable the BSB and Bar Council to carry their respective roles ‘more transparently and powerfully, in the public interest’.

The bar regulator joins the Solicitors Regulation Authority in backing full separation. But the position puts it at odds with the new Bar Council chair, who in her inaugural speech last month urged the government not to reshape legal services regulation.

Although the Bar Council has not officially stated its position on the government’s proposals, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC (pictured) said that the current arrangement allows regulation to be carried out cost efficiently with no less independence.

The BSB’s support for the government’s proposals came as it gave its financial forecast for the next three to five years, saying that changes to regulatory approaches will put more pressure on its cost base. It notes that it uses only 65% of the funds raised from the profession, with the remaining 35% going to the Bar Council.

This, it said, restricts its capacity to reduce the burden of regulator costs on the profession, as it is constrained by the strategies and work not owned by the BSB.

It said that the financial relationship with the representative body should be made clearer.

The plan also outlined the key risks the regulator seeks to address: a failure at the bar to meet consumer needs, a lack of diversity in the profession and discriminatory culture at the bar, and commercial pressures on legal service providers.

Outlining the commercial challenges that lie ahead, the BSB said that these can adversely affect access to legal services and threaten professional independence. 

But it acknowledged that in some cases increased competition can benefit consumers. An example of this is the growth in the number of public access barristers ‘who can meet the needs of consumers without using intermediaries such as solicitors’.

Readers' comments (7)

  • I tend to agree that there should be independent regulation and that there should be one regulator for the legal profession - barristers, solicitors, chartered legal executives, licensed conveyancers et al.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree entirely, and the powers that be seem to be contemplating such a move. The question will be whether once a super regulator is formed (I have it referred to as The General Legal Council) whether it take over, not just the regulation of legal practitioners, but also the routes to qualification and the issue of practice certificates and authorisation of ABS, effectively all aspects of regulated practice and admission.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So eventually a fused profession?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • No. Just con-fused

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I practice in UK and Gibraltar, and Gibraltar is a fused jurisdiction and that works just fine. Solicitors have a right of audience, and for those that take the extra training higher rights to compete side by side with members of the bar, and barristers who do the extra training can get rights to conduct litigation and take clients direct. So….we are not that far away already.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In 5-10 years there will be a single regulator, and people will be regulated not according to their title, but by the sort of law they practice. The current system is way too complicated and rooted in arcane and outdated practices that no longer exist.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dennis I completely agree, but think it will take less than 5 years. Mr Gove's through away comment that estate agents should be allowed to practice conveyancing and litigation gives me the impression that the RICS could well be in line to become an Approved Regulator under the new LSA. If that happens in a short time the RICS would rise to become the biggest of the Approved Regulators, that's my tip for the future.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (7)
  • Save

Advertisement

Sign up for email news alerts

Daily Update. Keep abreast of the latest developments that affect the profession

Legal Services

Browse the magazine

Current Issue

The Gazette offers you up-to-the-minute national and international news, opinion, features, in-depth articles plus a jobs and appointments section.

Please click the link below for a digital edition