England reforms lawyer discipline by new act which replaces Bar Associations

The Legal Services Act of 2007 removes the bar associations from the regulation of lawyer licensing.  The new body created to replace the self-regulation by the legal profession in England and Wales, focuses on consumer protection.

This concept is interesting, and provides an alternative to the secrecy policies of american bar associations.

ENGLAND

England’s Legal Services Act of 2007, mandated the end of the legal profession’s self-regulation and separated its regulation from its self-interested representative or political function. The Legal Services Board was appointed on September 1, 2008 pursuant to the Act, and it will be the single independent oversight regulator of legal services in England.

The Board will supervise all licensing authorities and oversee lawyer regulation. It is appointed entirely by the government. Most of the appointees are non-lawyers chosen for their regulatory and other public affairs experience, and some are consumer advocates. An Office of Legal Complaints will be established and monitored by the Board, completely independent of the profession, and will deal with consumer complaints according to an ombudsman scheme. The Complaints Commissioner must be a non-lawyer.

See: Legal Services Act 2007 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  

The Legal Services Act 2007 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that seeks to liberalise and regulate the market for legal services in England
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_Services_Act_2007 -

Legal Services Act of 2007  (England and Wales)

The Legal Services Act reforms the way legal services in England and Wales are regulated and puts the consumer interest at the heart of the regulatory framework.

Drivers for reform of the regulatory framework

The need for a more effective regulatory structure

1              The problems associated with the current regulatory framework can be seen in terms of regulatory proliferation, confusion and fragmentation; the propensity of the current structure to create regulatory anomalies and gaps; and the difficulties of interface and co-operation.

2              Overlaps in the current regulatory framework mean that the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs has the power to alter rules relating to the qualification or conduct of persons exercising rights of audience or rights to conduct litigation. In addition, all rules of the Law Society require the approval of the Master of the Rolls.

3              For consumers, the complexities of the current system means that many will not have sufficient information to distinguish between the levels of protection they are afforded under different parts of the regulatory framework and by unregulated providers. This lack of information creates a risk that unregulated service providers

4              may drive out regulated ones, reducing quality and diminishing choice. It also means that consumers are not protected in a consistent fashion.

5              1.20. It should be noted that almost everyone will need to use legal services at some point, and on the occasions when they do it will often be in highly stressful circumstances

6              (e.g. when moving home, resolving a family dispute, being involved in a court case or carrying out a business transaction).

7              1.21. For some legal services, namely litigation and advocacy, providers can potentially be subject to varying degrees of regulation, or regulatory influence, by a number of bodies including professional bodies, oversight regulators, service or other sectoral regulators (such as the Financial Services Authority), purchasers of legal services (particularly where, as in the case of the Legal Services Commission, they set quality requirements), and insurers.

8              1.22. The existing asymmetry of information in respect of the regulatory standards applied to different providers of legal services may also create significant anomalies between lawyers regulated by different frontline bodies, and between lawyers and non-lawyers, in terms of both consumer protection and regulatory burdens.

9              1.23. Gaps in the current arrangements generally mean that an Act of Parliament is needed to provide the protection that consumers need where a new or additional activity needs to be subject to regulatory control (e.g. claims management services). This means it is difficult to put safeguards in place quickly when new problems arise. The current system of regulation is therefore not flexible enough to offer consumers the protection they need and deserve.

10           1.24. Potential conflicts of interest also arise in the existing framework, with most of the regulators of legal professionals also performing a representative role, acting as advocates for their members. This raises concerns as, arguably, there is a risk that the regulators’ judgements might be unduly influenced by putting the interests of members above those of consumers of legal services and thus undermining public confidence in the legal services sector. Even when this is not the case, the perception of undue influence on regulators’ considerations may be damaging to the image of the profession. However, largely in response to the recommendations made by Sir David Clementi, the Law Society and the Bar Council have recently announced that they are to establish separate arms to deal with regulation of their respective professions, which will be ring-fenced from representative interests.

Legal Services Act 2007 – Ministry of Justice    

Mar 12, 2009 Legal Services Act 2007. Legal books. The Legal Services Act reforms the way legal services in England and Wales are regulated and puts the
www.justice.gov.uk/publications/legalservicesbill.htmCachedSimilar

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