Regulatory reform should be put on the back-burner while the legal profession tries to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Law Society said today.
The solicitors’ representative body described a new review of regulation as an ‘interesting contribution to the debate’ but stressed there are bigger priorities for the government right now.
Society president Simon Davis said in the current climate that law firms need more support rather than the added burden of regulatory upheaval and uncertainty.
‘The immediate focus of policymakers should be thinking about how to make better use of the current regulatory framework, deliver effective public legal education, resource legal aid properly and ensure the survival of the vulnerable parts of legal services that do so much to support people in difficult circumstances and to underpin a whole range of transactions, business and personal,’ said Davis.
The Society said there is already scope under the current framework for achieving some of the review’s ambitions, for example extending the list of reserved activities to include higher-risk work such as will writing and estate administration.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers, one of the 10 frontline regulators the report identities could be shrunk down to one, said future regulation should take account of the particular needs for different sections of the profession.
Chief executive Sheila Kumar said: ‘Stretching a single regulatory framework across the full range of legal services is not an obvious solution to the needs of a dynamic legal sector.
‘We continue to believe that our specialist approach is the right way to deliver consumer protection while fostering the development of innovative and vibrant conveyancing and probate businesses.’
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives said the measures included in the report will protect consumers, open the market further to full competition and ensure the market in England and Wales stays competitive.
CILEx chair Professor Chris Bones said: ‘Activity-based regulation is a reform that is long-overdue and CILEx is already pursuing this. If you want your teeth seen to, you don’t visit a GP. Yet in legal services this generalist approach is still the basic building block of representation: at times to the detriment of consumers.’