Solicitors will pay less than £19 a year towards the cost of the Legal Services Board, the oversight regulator said today, unveiling ‘ambitious’ plans for the next 12 months. The 2017/18 business plan plan is the third and final part of a three-year strategy which has concentrated on breaking down regulatory barriers., tackling unmet legal need, as well as overseeing frontline regulators and the Office for Legal Complaints.
The board, which employs 32 people, says it hopes to reduce its indicative budget by a further £150,000 in the year. It says that the notional cost to each person authorised to undertake reserved legal activities and holding a practising certificate has reduced from over £34 in 2010/11 to an expected amount of under £19 in 2016/17 and that this will ’continue on a downward trajectory’.
Chief executive Neil Buckley said: ’We are committed to delivering value for money and a service that helps drive the modernisation, deregulation and accessibility of legal services in England and Wales. This is an ambitious business plan in both scope and detail.’
Four years after the legal education and training review was published, and three years after publishing statutory guidance, the board says it has maintained a ‘watching brief’. It plans to increase engagement with the ‘wider’ education and training community ’to make sure we maintain a rich and broad understanding so that our approach to oversight continues to be fit for purpose and reflects best regulatory practice’.
The board said it will engage with any Ministry of Justice proposals relating to legal services regulation and with any initiatives for further reforms arising from the Competition and Markets Authority’s legal services review. It backs the authority's recommendation to assess the sufficiency of action plans developed by frontline regulators to improve market transparency.
Research on vulnerable consumer’ experience of legal services will be published next year, which will focus on those with mental health problems or dementia.
’Large-scale quantitative’ research into the legal experiences of small businesses, commissioned in 2012/13 and 2014/15, will be updated.
As well as reviewing its internal governance rules, the board will also review regulators’ responses to its revised diversity guidance.
Buckley said: I cannot emphasise enough just how important improvements in diversity are to the future of the profession and, in turn, to the judiciary. This is an issue that has to be tackled not solely at entry level, where there is a good story emerging, we also need to make sure that action is taken to address diversity differentials in relation to progression to senior levels within the profession.’