The Legal Services Board incurred £338,000 in legal costs in the past year – mostly down to fighting off a legal challenge to its Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).
The figure, which appears in accounts for 2013/14 released by the oversight regulator, compares with a £34,000 external legal spend for the previous year.
Permission to appeal against the dismissal of the judicial review over QASA was granted in May, with the hearing not expected before July. Overall, the LSB spent £4.266m in the last financial year, a marginal rise on 2012/13.
While legal spend increased almost 10-fold, the organisation managed to reduce extra expenditure during the year, largely by cutting research costs from £445,000 to £218,000. Savings of around £60,000 were also made in outsourcing services and moving to new premises in Kemble Street, London.
Chief executive Chris Kenny (pictured) was the best-paid member of staff, receiving an annual salary of £160,000 and pension contributions of £36,000.
Chairman David Edmonds, whose term ended earlier this year, received a £63,000 salary. The report says the main focus in the next three years will be on examining how regulators and legislators add unnecessary cost and complexity to the legal services market.
There is also acknowledgement from the LSB leadership that the board will not be needed at some point in the future, an idea advanced last week by justice secretary Chris Grayling.
Chairman Sir Michael Pitt said: ‘As the market changes in the years to come, there may indeed come a time when the LSB will have fulfilled its role and the frontline regulators are demonstrating significant simplification and improved performance, removing the need for the current structure of oversight.
‘Until that time comes we will do as the lord chancellor has suggested recently and will continue to work towards that point when the number of regulators regulating the legal services market can fall significantly.’
The LSB, now in its fourth full year of existence, oversees 10 approved regulators who between them regulate around 163,000 lawyers in England and Wales.
The LSB said its highlights of the year included research on the legal needs of small businesses and people with learning disabilities, designating three new bodies as approved regulators for licensing ABS applicants and laying the foundations for comparison websites.
The organisation also concluded its first statutory investigation: securing an undertaking from the Bar Council to ensure more independence from the Bar Standards Board.