Last year, University College London (UCL) launched an independent review of legal services regulation led by Professor Stephen Mayson.
The Law Society is pleased to submit our initial contribution to the review.
While we would not argue that the current regulatory framework is perfect, it succeeds in its purpose. That is why we believe that further legislative reform is presently unnecessary, and improvements can be made within the scope of the current framework.
In our response, we have set out our views on a number of the important issues raising by this review:
- Regulatory objectives: The eight regulatory objectives cover the right areas, but need to be applied in a balanced way, in particular in cases where there is a tension between the objectives.
- Rationale for regulation: Legal regulation must, among other objectives, promote and preserve the public interest in the rule of law and the administration of justice. To take a narrow view of regulation, for example, by merely regulating for economic reasons, or to promote competition in the market, is not sufficient to ensure that the broader public interest is protected.
- Reserved activities: There is a public interest in maintaining reserved activities, which only regulated professions can perform.
- Professional titles: Strong and distinct professional titles give meaningful choice to consumers and help to ensure that regulatory standards are maintained.
- Independence of the legal profession: At the core of the regulatory framework, there must be an independent legal profession - independent of the state and able to act free from any risk that the regulatory framework is fettered by the state.