Law Society response to SRA statement on regulatory independence

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said:

“We support independent regulation. Regulation is about the minimum regulatory rules which should apply to the whole market to protect consumers. This is very different from professional standards of behaviour, conduct and ethics which should be the responsibility of the profession as they are best placed to raise these standards.

“There is an opportunity to put in place better and simpler regulation which applies to all legal services, as currently many legal services providers are not regulated. This means that purchasers of some legal services are not protected.

“Currently the regulatory maze is complex. There are numerous regulators of legal services and there is an opportunity to consolidate to save cost. There is also confusion because currently there is a very broad definition of regulation which includes regulatory rules, professional standards and conduct, ethics, entry into the profession and awarding the professional title.

“Paradoxically, the most qualified and trained are the most regulated; the least qualified and trained are not regulated. This is a mistake. There is an opportunity to redefine what regulation should cover to ensure that it is simple and better, and applies to all legal services. Regulation should not include professional standards and conduct, nor entry into the profession and awarding a professional title. In order to drive professional standards the responsibility needs to be with the profession. This will ensure that the reputation of the profession at home and internationally is secured and that England and Wales remains the jurisdiction of choice and the legal profession is seen to be independent from Government, enabling it to uphold the rule of law.”

4 February 2016

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