A full-scale overhaul of the legal regulatory framework is not expected within the next three years, the oversight regulator has forecast.
The Legal Services Board, which has advocated revisiting the Legal Services Act 2007, says the government’s focus over the coming years will be on the UK’s exit from the European Union.
As a result, the LSB believes that legislative reform of the regulatory framework is not a ‘realistic prospect’.
The prediction appears in the organisation’s strategy for the next three years, published this week. ‘We still believe that the system is in need of reform and that this should not be forgotten during this period,’ the strategy states. 'However, the more immediate challenge for the LSB and the sector will be to make the most of the current framework.’
There will clearly be frustration in some quarters at the delays in any fundamental change to the regulatory framework. As far back as September 2016, the LSB called for a single regulator to oversee all legal professionals.
The suggestion that ministers may be preoccupied with Brexit appears at odds with noises coming out of the Ministry of Justice. In October, lord chancellor David Lidington (pictured) said that the new chair of the LSB would need to work towards a tailored review of legal service regulation, although he conceded this would ‘not be easy’.
In its strategy, the LSB also says it will need to be aware of new regulatory risks emerging along with the increasing role of technology in service delivery.
The document adds: ‘The challenge for regulators will be to understand the changing environment, ensure regulation keeps pace and effectively manages these risks without stifling innovation. We think the concept of "technology neutral" regulation will be worth exploring.’
Key technological trends identified as likely to grow in the next three years are the role of artificial intelligence in addressing legal problems, the commoditisation of legal services, ‘big data’ allowing providers to develop more personalised services, and the modernisation of the court system.
Consultation on the strategy and accompanying business plan is open until 19 February.