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CLC chair calls for genuine free choice of regulator

There is still 'unfinished business' from implementation of the Legal Services Act

18 November 2015

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The Legal Services Act must be fully realised if legal businesses are to have a genuine free choice of regulator, according to the new chair of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).

Dame Janet Paraskeva, who was chief executive of the Law Society between 2000 and 2006, called for the complete separation of representation and regulation in the legal sector to ensure clarity and transparency in regulation.

'Returning to the legal sector, I was surprised to find that there is unfinished business from implementation of the Legal Services Act. That is to ensure that other front-line regulators of legal services are able to enjoy that same clarity that we do,' she said.

'That needs to be through real and effective separation of representative and regulatory functions. The principle seems to have been eroded since passage of the Act in 2007. And it's a matter that we are taking up with the Legal Services Board, which bears the responsibility of ensuring that the Act is being exploited to the full.'

The new CLC chair cited the current operation of professional indemnity insurance (PII) as an inhibitor to free choice of regulator due to the run-off requirements.

'If a practice chooses to move between regulators, it currently triggers a requirement for run-off cover even though the same people are carrying out the same work for the same client profile. Just under a different regulator. But a different regulator overseen by the same Legal Services Board,' she explained.

Dame Janet promised the CLC's annual regulatory review would examine all aspects of its role, the objective being to ensure the regulator can support innovation and growth in the legal sector for the benefit of legal businesses and consumers.

'I am convinced that our review cannot simply be the kind of thing that politicians so often talk about as a bonfire of red tape,' she added.

Sheila Kumar, chief executive of the CLC, commented: 'The regular review of the CLC's handbook and financial protection arrangements taking place in 2016 will be thorough and fundamental. As well as ensuring effective consumer protection in a contemporary context, the reforms we make will aim to continue our mission to foster innovation and competition in the provision of conveyancing and probate services.'

John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journal | @JvdLD

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