The Law Society has called for greater explanation of regulatory rules setting out the functions of different bodies involved in the profession.
The Society said the internal governance rules of the oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board, need to be looked at again to establish what exactly are the roles for the representative body and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The LSB, faced with little government appetite to review the Legal Services Act, is instead consulting on how the existing framework can be adapted to work better.
In its response the Society, which is the approved regulator, insisted that greater clarity of the rules would help strike an ‘appropriate balance’ between regulatory independence and public confidence within the current legislation.
The response says the Society and SRA would benefit from specific guidance on the expectations of the LSB and what the approved regulator is entitled to required from the frontline regulator. ‘It should also be noted that certain functions are representative only; it would be helpful if the IGRs specified what these were, so that they remain representative roles and avoid confusion.’
The Society says the consultation provides an opportunity to introduce more pro-active involvement of the LSB in ensuring appropriate accountability of frontline regulators and monitoring of complaints about their performance.
Rules can also be refined, the response suggests, to provide more understanding of the oversight role of approved regulators and the transparency required in disclosure and reporting by frontline regulators.
In terms of resolving disputes relating to regulatory independence, the Society asks for a ‘proportionate approach’ from the LSB and for the rules to encourage dialogue and cooperation between approved and frontline regulators.
The response adds that a legal profession independent of government control also remains important when considering current and future regulatory arrangements.