Legal Services Board
The Legal Services Board is the independent body responsible for overseeing the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales. It is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. Its set-up and ongoing costs are met entirely by a levy on practitioners on the legal sector, so the body is both politically and financially independent from Government.
The Board's statutory mandate is to ensure that regulation in the legal services sector is carried out in the public interest; and that the interests of the consumers of legal services are put at the heart of the system.
The Board became fully active on 1 January 2010, when the new regulatory regime was activated by statute.
The Board was created by the Legal Services Act 2007 and sits at the apex of the new regulatory regime for legal services. It has a duty to promote the regulatory objectives defined under that Act:
- Protecting and promoting the public interest;
- Supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law;
- Improving access to justice;
- Protecting and promoting the interests of consumers of legal services;
- Promoting competition in the provision of legal services;
- Encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession;
- Increasing public understanding of the citizen’s legal rights and duties;
- Promoting and maintaining adherence to the professional principles;
The professional principles are:
- Authorised persons should act with independence and integrity;
- Authorised persons should maintain proper standards of work;
- Authorised persons should act in the best interests of their clients;
- Persons who exercise before any court a right of audience, or conduct litigation in relation to proceedings in any court, by virtue of being authorised persons should comply with their duty to the court to act with independence in the interests of justice, and
- Affairs of clients should be kept confidential.
Supervision of regulators
The LSB provides cross-sector oversight regulation of the eight separate bodies named as approved regulators in the Legal Services Act 2007. These bodies directly regulate the circa 120,000 lawyers practising in England and Wales. These include:
- For Solicitors:
- For Barristers:
- For Legal Executives
- For Licensed Conveyancers
- Council for Licensed Conveyancers (regulatory body for Licensed Conveyancers)
- For Patent and Trademark Attorneys:
- For Law Costs Draftsmen:
- For Notaries:
The Board has the power to recommend to the Lord Chancellor that he approve further approved regulators. This means that new bodies can apply to the LSB to become frontline regulators of parts of the legal profession. Once the Act comes fully into force and the Board is operational, all changes to these bodies' internal professional regulatory arrangements must be approved by the Board.
- Issue directions to the regulator to correct the deficiency;
- Publish a public censure;
- Impose a financial penalty;
- Make an intervention direction whereby the regulatory function is performed by a person nominated by the Board;
- Recommend that the Lord Chancellor cancel the regulator's approval.
The Board has a duty to regulate practising fees, resolve regulatory conflicts, and work with the Office of Fair Trading, the Competition Commission and the Lord Chancellor on competition issues.
Members of the Board include:
- David Edmonds (Chair)
- Stephen Green (Member)
- Bill Moyes (Member)
- Edward Nally (Member)
- Barbara Saunders OBE (Member)
- Nicole Smith (Member)
- Andrew Whittaker (Member)
- David Wolfe (Member)
- Chris Kenny (Chief Executive)
On 11 November 2009, the LSB launched the Legal Services Consumer Panel. The Panel operates independently of the LSB and represents the interests of both individual and business consumers in the LSB’s work to oversee the regulation of lawyers. The establishment of the Panel was a statutory requirement of the Legal Services Act 2007. Members of the Panel are appointed by the LSB with the approval of the Lord Chancellor. The Panel’s inaugural Chair, Dr Dianne Hayter, was appointed in 2009. She stood down due to ongoing commitments in the House of Lords. She was succeeded in August 2011 by the current chair, Elizabeth Davies who is Director of Partner Relations at Age UK.
The Panel examines issues of importance to legal services consumers and advises the LSB in its work overseeing the frontline regulators. The Panel publishs this advice. Should the LSB fail to agree with such advice, it is required to publish a written statement outlining its reasons.
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.2-7/ Sch.1
- Legal Services Act 2007, s.1
- "Explanatory Notes to Legal Services Act 2007". Office of Public Sector Information. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- Legal Services Act 2007, s.20/ Sch.2, Pt.2
- Legal Services Act 2007, s.20/ Sch.3, Pt.3
- Legal Services Act 2007, s.28)
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.32-34/ Sch.7
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.35-36
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.37-40
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.41-44
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.45-48
- Legal Services Act 2007, s.51
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.52-54
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.57-61
- "Jack Straw appoints first chair of Legal Services Board". Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- "Jack Straw appoints new Legal Services Board". Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2008-08-08.