UK has too many legal profession regulators, says ex-Bar watchdog

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Dec 14, 2017
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Baroness Deech called for urgent reform of the Legal Services Act 2007

Ben Gurr/The Times

Too many regulators are “jostling to be master” of the UK’s legal professions and the legislation that governs them is “badly crafted”, the former chairwoman of the Bar’s watchdog told the House of Lords.

Baroness Deech told fellow peers that the Legal Services Act 2007 needed urgent reform to streamline the web of regulation that involved eight front-line regulators overseen in England and Wales by the Legal Services Board.

In a Lords debate on regulation of the professions, Lady Deech called on the government to act but advised peers that “Ministry of Justice reviews have shied away from legislative change”.

However, she claimed that regulation of legal services was in desperate need of reform.

“The act is badly crafted, for there is no clear focus, and mission creep was bound to happen; one objective can be played off against another. Professional standards, although listed, seem to come low down,” she said, warning that despite the web of regulation, some legal service providers remained unsupervised.  

“The unregulated sector in law is a problem. There is an unregulated sector versus a reserved activities focus and it is both confusing and possibly harmful for the public,” she said.

“At the same time, it may pose overly onerous regulation on those who in fact need it least. There is no logic to which legal activities are regulated and which are not.”

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