Legal Services Board
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The Legal Services Board (LSB) is an independent legal industry trade 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, created through the Legal Services Act of 2007. Costs are covered entirely from the income collected from a levy on legal practitioners. The LSB is politically and financially independent of the government.
The LSB was created by the Legal Services Act of 2007 and sits at the apex of the regulatory system for legal services in England and Wales. It has a duty to promote eight regulatory objectives defined under the 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 citizens' legal rights and duties;
- Promoting and maintaining adherence to the professional principles.
The professional principles are:
- Authorized persons should act with independence and integrity;
- Authorized persons should maintain proper standards of work;
- Authorized persons should act in the best interests of their clients;
- Persons who exercise their rights before any court a right of audience, or conduct litigation in relation to proceedings in any court, by virtue of being authorized 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 regulation oversight of the eight approved regulators named in the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA 2007).
These bodies directly regulate the 166,853 practicing lawyers in England and Wales. As of April 1 2014, these include 138,243 solicitors, 15,279 barristers, 7,927 chartered legal executives and 5,404 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing.
The approved regulators are:
- For Solicitors, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (independent regulatory arm of the Law Society)
- For Barristers, the Bar Standards Board (independent regulatory arm of the Bar Council)
- For Legal Executives, access the site "http://www.cilexregulation.org.uk" [CILEx Regulation] (independent regulatory arm of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives)
- For Licensed Conveyancers, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers
- For Patent and Trademark Attorneys, Intellectual Property Regulation Board (independent regulatory arm of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys)
- For Costs Lawyers, Costs Lawyer Standards Board (Association of Cost Lawyers)
- For Notaries, Master of the Faculties
- For Chartered Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (Probate Committee)
The LSB has the power to recommend to the Lord Chancellor that he approve further "approved regulators".:s.20/ Sch.2, Pt.2 This means that new bodies can apply to the LSB to become front-line regulators of parts of the legal profession. As a result of the LSA 2007 coming into force, all changes to these bodies' internal professional regulatory arrangements must be approved by the LSB.:s.20/ Sch.3, Pt.3
Approved regulators also have a duty to promote the regulatory objectives.:s.28
If they fail to do so, or if they fail to comply with the 2007 Act, the LSB can:
- Under Sections 32 to 34: issue directions to the regulator to correct the deficiency;
- Under Sections 35 to 36: publish a public censure;
- Under Sections 37 to 40: impose a financial penalty;
- Under Sections 41 to 44: make an intervention direction whereby the regulatory function is performed by a person nominated by the Board;
- Under Sections 45 to 48: recommend that Lord Chancellor cancel the regulator's approval;
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 Lord Chancellor. The Panel’s inaugural Chair, Dr. Dianne Hayter, was appointed in 2009. She did not take the position because of ongoing commitments in the House of Lords. She was succeeded in August 2011 by the current chair, Elizabeth Davies who is currently a Director of Arthritis Care.
The Panel examines issues of importance to legal services consumers, advises the LSB in its work overseeing the frontline regulators and publishes this advice. Should the LSB fail to agree with such advice, it is required to publish a written statement outlining its reasons.
- Board, Legal Services (2009-01-02). "Legal Services Board". www.legalservicesboard.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
- "Legal Services Act 2007". www.legislation.gov.uk. Expert Participation. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
- UK Parliament. Legal Services Act 2007 as amended (see also enacted form), from legislation.gov.uk.
- "Explanatory Notes to Legal Services Act 2007". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- "Legal Services Act 2007".
- Legal Services Act 2007, ss.41-44
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