The Legal Services Consumer Panel has claimed credit for changing the climate of opinion on the regulation of will-writing – despite the government’s outright rejection of the idea last month.
The quango’s annual report, published today, lists will-writing as one area where it had an impact in 2012-13. Consumer panel research which ‘uncovered defective wills on a shocking scale and evidence of bad sales practices’ prompted the Legal Services Board’s decision to recommend regulation.
Despite the lord chancellor’s ‘extremely disappointing’ subsequent rejection, panel chair Elisabeth Davies (pictured) says that ‘this piece of work is not over yet’.
‘We’ve never minded being in the long game,’ Davies comments in her foreword to the 36-page report.
Other achievements claimed for the year include a ‘major impact’ on standards of comparison websites and inspiring a Law Society practice note on dealing with deaf and hard-of-hearing clients.
Davies says the panel ‘has spent this last year shining a bright and sometimes harsh spotlight on the approved regulators’. She notes that in 2011/12 the panel ‘almost doubled the speeches and presentations we made and the number of meetings we held with our stakeholders.’
Priorities for the coming year include examining the impact of the removal of legal aid from many areas of law and the expected growth in numbers of litigants in person. ‘Combine this with the wider economic changes and the potential for more consumers to be vulnerable is there for all to see,’ the report says.
The panel, created by the 2007 Legal Services Act as an independent arm of the LSB, spent £188,100 in 2012-13, against a budget of £198,000.