Review reveals separation of regulators and representative bodies not needed

Plans to completely sever ties between legal regulators and their linked professional bodies are unlikely to go ahead.

In a review of the Legal Services Board (LSB) and the Office for Legal Complaints, the government concluded that no change needed to be made to their structure, given their generally efficient and effective operation as non-departmental public bodies.

With a view to completely separate the bodies, it was recommended in 2015 that the Ministry of Justice should conduct a consultation on the independence of the regulator. However, this has still not been carried out.

Complete separation would need primary legislation to be enacted, as set out in the 2007 Legal Services Act.

The review considered the potential for interference, or the perception of, between professional bodies and linked regulators. It stated that there should be increased efforts to achieve separation between the two, especially in terms of public visibility.

Responding to the report, the Legal Service Board indicated that a legislative change would not occur, stating: “The review team welcomes this and is of the opinion that any changes should be made within the existing legislative framework.”

The review also touched on the opportunity the report provided for the LSB, giving them a public platform to demonstrate independence to both the public and professionals.

Overall, the general assessment of the review found that “the LSB is generally effective both in promoting the regulatory objectives and in delivering its functions”.

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