SRA want independence from The Law Society

The SRA have written to the House of Commons’ Justice Select Committee seeking independence from The Law Society and attacking the tax on Solicitors to join their union!

SRA chief executive Paul Philip said in an interview with PoliticsHome yesterday: “We think that we should be accountable to the public through Parliament, not accountable to an organisation that represents and lobbies on behalf of solicitors.”

“We have written to the select committee asking if we could become accountable to Parliament through that route.”

Mr Philip argued that “if solicitors set their own standards, it is essentially marking their own homework. We think in order to bolster public credibility the people who set the standards have to be independent of the representative body and be independent of government. Setting standards is the role of the regulator.” See Legal Futures

Over 500 less Conveyancing Firms in 2015

According to the researchers, there are 30 per cent fewer law firms offering residential conveyancing services compared with 2005.

The number of firms in England and Wales in the field dropped by nearly 10 per cent last year alone – falling from 5,871 in 2014 to 5,357 in 2015.

In 2015 law firms completed 1.03 million transactions, an increase of only 4,389 on the previous year.

Nonetheless, the figures show that the size of the residential conveyancing market is nearly a quarter smaller than it was before the global financial crisis of 2008. 

Mark Riddick, the chairman of Search Acumen, described 2015 as “the year when the property market was still coming out of the post-recession doldrums”.

Jonathan Smithers, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, who is also a conveyancing specialist lawyer, reacted to the research, telling The Brief: “The market is dynamic and has had consolidation amongst some firms. It would be wrong to conflate the total number of firms, in the thousands, with the number of clients who are buying and selling or with the size of the market

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Continuing Competence FAQ’s from The Law Society

Helpful guidance has just been published by The Law Society with FAQ’s answered and provides useful information to solicitors when changing from CPD’s and complying with the new Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) scheme for continuing competence.

From 1 November 2016, any solicitor with a practising certificate, wherever in the world they practice and whether or not they are practising English law, is expected to comply with the continuing competence scheme.

Law Society response to self regulation and SRA role

The Law Society’s Chief Executive Catherine Dixon has issued a robust response to the SRA.

‘Paradoxically, the most qualified and trained are the most regulated; the least qualified and trained are not regulated. This is a mistake. There is an opportunity to redefine what regulation should cover to ensure that it is simple and better, and applies to all legal services. Regulation should not include professional standards and conduct, nor entry into the profession and awarding a professional title. In order to drive professional standards, the responsibility needs to be with the profession. This will ensure that the reputation of the profession at home and internationally is secured and that England and Wales remains the jurisdiction of choice, and that the legal profession is seen to be independent from government, enabling it to uphold the rule of law.’

82% of Public wants independent regulator for Solicitors

The Times published this article

Public backs total independence for solicitors’ regulator

Public backing for a regulator of solicitors that is completely independent from the professional body is overwhelming, survey figures released today claim.

According to a ComRes poll, 82 per cent of adults in England and Wales back a model in which the watchdog over solicitors is not linked in any way to the professional body. Only 6 per cent said solicitors should be self-regulated.

The research – which was commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and released to The Times – will add fodder to that body’s campaign for the last apron strings attaching it to the Law Society to be cut. Under the Legal Services Act 2007 the society remains the technical regulator, although it is forced to delegate all practical operations and decision-making to the SRA, which is quasi-independent.

Paul Philip, the SRA’s relatively new chief executive (pictured), has over the past few months ramped up a campaign for total independence. He claims the society should be forced to stand financially on its own feet instead of relying on a share of the practising fee. Currently about 30 per cent of that fee goes towards underwriting the representative body.

The survey found that about 70 per cent of the public would feel more comfortable making a complaint about solicitors if the regulator were completely independent. And 77 per cent agreed that the government should act to force the Law Society to cut the regulator free.

Catherine Dixon, the Law Society’s chief executive, told The Brief that wholesale reorganisation of the legal profession regulation was required. “Currently, the regulatory maze is complex,” she said. “There are numerous regulators of legal services and there is an opportunity to consolidate to save cost. There is an opportunity to redefine what regulation should cover to ensure that it is simple and better, and applies to all legal services.”

In what some will interpret at the society bidding to claim responsibility for turf normally ruled by the SRA,  the society’s top bureaucrat maintained that “regulation should not include professional standards and conduct, or entry into the profession and awarding a professional title.”

 Legal profession regulation ‘not sound’, claims oversight body

The legal profession’s uber-regulator has also spiced up the debate, telling the UK’s competition watchdog that the current system “is not based on sound rationale”.

In a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) yesterday, the head of the Legal Services Board said that “a programme of deregulation and liberalisation [in the legal profession] has reduced burdens on providers, but the underlying legislative framework needs reform”.

Neil Buckley, the LSB’s chief executive, said that “progress on consumer empowerment has been sluggish”. He maintained that existing and potential clients “are not driving competition through their purchasing behaviour”.

Buckley’s letter came in response to the CMA’s announcement last month that it would be reviewing the legal sector. The Legal Services Board boss will have provided succour to the SRA by adding in the letter that in the view of the board “there is insufficient independence between some lawyers and their regulators”