The Legal Services Board stands accused of partiality and incompetence in the latest attack from a regulator.

In a forthright response to a consultation on its business plan, the Solicitors Regulation Authority says of the LSB ‘it is not clear that the organisation as a whole has sufficient knowledge or experience of the regulation of professions and conduct of business regulation’.

It says the LSB ‘could be perceived as aligning its own, economic liberalisation agenda too closely with the political objectives of the government of the day’.

The Bar Council yesterday said it had concerns over the costs and scope of the LSB’s ambitions.

The SRA’s response says the board:

  • has taken a too interventionist and directive approach which, in our view, is inconsistent with the role of the LSB envisaged by the legislation, as an oversight regulator; and if adopted unamended, this plan would continue that approach.
  • is ill placed, in terms of capacity and capability, to drive the detailed programmes and activities of frontline regulators as it has sought, and continues to seek, to do.

The regulator also bristles against the LSB’s statement that it will ‘monitor regulators’ adherence to their action plans closely and, where appropriate, take action for failure to keep to them’. It says that the SRA does not recognise the term ‘action plan’ and does not consider that it has agreed one with the board – or that it is necessary to do so.

In a covering letter, the SRA’s chief executive Antony Townsend, says the SRA ‘remains committed to a productive working relationship with the LSB to deliver the regulatory objectives, to which we have a shared commitment’.

‘However, as you will see from our comments - which will not come as a surprise to you given our earlier discussions - we do have some serious concerns arising both from our recent experience and the draft plan which, in our view, require significant revision to both the draft plan and the LSB's approach.’