Legal Services Board business plan 2024/25 – Law Society response
In 2024/25, the LSB will enter the fourth year of its 10-year strategy to “reshape legal services to better meet society’s needs”.
The strategy outlines nine challenges that need to be addressed to improve outcomes for legal services users and the public, grouped under three themes:
- fairer outcomes
- stronger confidence
- better services
“We would like to see the LSB renew focus on its core activities and only take on more workstreams based on regulatory need or gaps in responding to consumer needs,” our president Nick Emmerson said.
“Care should be taken to ensure work isn’t being duplicated by other stakeholders already engaged in research and policy development on common strategic priorities such as access to justice, upholding the rule of law and ethics.
The LSB has listened to our feedback from last year and plans to have a greater focus on its core function of:
- protecting and promoting the public interest
- supporting the rule of law, and
- maintaining the professional principles
“It should also focus on the performance issues of the Legal Ombudsman and increased monitoring and evaluation of the Office for Legal Complaints, to ensure they are fair, transparent, and consumers and the profession have confidence in seeking redress.
The LSB should have the necessary capacity and capability to conduct its work as part of its core oversight functions.
However, the resources required to manage the dispute between the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and CILEX Regulation and its independent review of the Solicitors Regulation Authority's (SRA) intervention into Axiom Ince are not necessarily representative of its usual work. Any increase should be kept under review.
“We are pleased access to justice is front and centre of this year’s business plan,” Nick said.
“The LSB can provide a useful voice to highlight the issue of access to justice to government, especially as it has become progressively worse over time, with the continued freeze in legal aid rates accelerating an exodus out of legal aid practice, resulting in advice deserts across the country.
“We encourage the LSB to consider its role in market surveillance and addressing the risk of market failure as a matter of urgency.”
What this means for solicitors
Any potential duplication of work could mean a duplication of costs and an additional burden on solicitors’ budgets.
This must be considered in the context of the continuing cost-of-living crisis and financial burdens faced by many sections of the profession, as well as the acute financial issues for criminal and civil legal aid practitioners.
The consultation closed on 12 February 2024.
We are keen to have further discussions about how legal service regulation can support the rule of law, beyond setting professional rules and ensuring a robust system for determining complaints against legal professionals.
We look forward to working closely with the LSB, the SRA and others on the delivery of the business plan, to help address some of the challenges the profession and the sector are facing.