Over the past few weeks there has been notable animosity between the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Law Society; not least the Society’s bid to regain responsibility for the regulation of solicitors from the SRA.
But now the Chairman of the Legal Services Board (LSB), David Edmunds, has waded into the row and encouraged the warring organisations to stop their continuing spats.
Talking to the Legal Services website Mr Edmunds said: “I don’t think the Law Society should be arguing with the SRA over the amount of resource that’s needed to regulate the sector. I don’t think you should have to have that very complex infrastructure that’s been built in order to make regulation to work.
“If they simply decided on both sides that they’re going to make this work and the Law Society decided not to intervene in things that it didn’t need to intervene in, and let the SRA get on with it’s regulatory work, then many of those tensions could be removed quite easily.”
Mr Edmunds also offered praise to the improvements that the SRA has made to the way licensing for Alternative Business Structures (ABS) are permitted and questioned the Ministry of Justices appetite for major reform to the way the industry is regulated.
The licensing of ABS’ had been of major concern to the LSB for quite a considerable time but now Mr Edmunds accepts that the SRA has made significant improvements to the way applications are handled.
He also answered criticism that the LSB themselves have sought to be the market regulator, as opposed to just overseeing the regulation of the industry.
He said: “Regulation is often about dealing with market failure and what’s the big market failure in legal services? The fact that a large proportion of our fellow citizens don’t have access to legal services, because they don’t know where to get them from… and lots of people can’t afford them.”
Last week it was revealed by the SRA that they had rejected applications for ABS’ whose only purpose was to circumvent the referral fee ban, commenting on how insurers had been behind a lot of those applications.
1. Legal Services Board; LSB Logo; http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/images/LSB_Burgundy_rgb.jpg