The former head of an organisation representing one million European lawyers has criticised moves by regulators to stop UK solicitors handling client money.

Writing in today’s Gazette, Jonathan Goldsmith accuses the Legal Services Board of being ‘imprisoned’ by the Legal Services Act 2007 in seeking to strip powers from professions deemed to have been ‘naughty’.

Goldsmith, until recently secretary-general of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, said moves to emulate the French system appear to disregard completely the different culture which applies across the channel. ‘The French system treats its bars as responsible adults able to regulate their own affairs, not as naughty children to be chastised,’ he says.

He adds: ‘I would encourage the LSB to go to France and find out about their system. Sit at a pavement cafe, have a glass of wine and watch the passing parade. Forget the English trope that what France needs is another dose of “Thatcher-Blair”.’

Goldsmith suggests a future review of the LSA might also acknowledge that the profession has ‘outgrown its rattles and dummies’ and can at last be trusted.