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LSB under fire in the House of Lords

18/12/2012

The government has opposed calls from lawyers in the House of Lords to scale back the powers of the Legal Services Board (LSB), claiming instead that the current system is fit for purpose. The government's response follows a House of Lords debate, initiated by Bar Standards Board chairperson Baroness Deech, in which several peers accused the LSB of going beyond its role as set out by the Legal Services Act 2007.

Deech argued that the LSB impedes diversity and mobility in the profession, and that its micro-management approach duplicates the work of other regulators to add to the "maze of regulation" created by the Legal Services Act. Several other peers agreed with Deech, including the barrister Lord Faulks, who cited the LSB's requirement that barristers must, upon their first meeting, give criminal clients written advice on how to make complaints as evidence of the LSB's inadequate understanding of practicalities at the Bar. Meanwhile, as reported by Legal Futures, the former senior partner of Herbert Smith and current Conservative peer, Lord Gold, voiced his disappointment that the LSB has so far failed to strike a balance with the profession's other regulators, despite prolonged talks.

However, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon defended the LSB on behalf of the government, and insisted that significant changes would not be considered for at least three years. He added: "The reforms enabled by the Legal Services Act have provided a proportionate and effective regulatory regime that remains, currently, fit for purpose. While it is still relatively early to assess the full impact of the LSB, its functions are still needed and should continue to be delivered in their current form."


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