The Law Society today warned government that now is the ‘wrong time’ for a shakeup of legal services regulation – stressing that the profession will be focusing on supporting its clients through a period of unprecedented change in the wake of last week’s Brexit vote.
Speaking before giving evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee, chief executive Catherine Dixon pledged that Chancery Lane would work with solicitors, clients, the public and government to support a ‘calm transition’ after the UK voted to leave the EU.
She alerted MPs to what she described as ‘the dangers of picking away at the finely balanced legal services sector when the sector, constitution and economy are going through a period of such unprecedented change’.
She also outlined some of the sectoral issues which will need to be addressed in the event that Article 50 is triggered.
These include: maintaining single market access; enabling solicitors to continue to practise across the EU; maintaining financial services passporting arrangements; ensuring the mutual recognition of judgments; maintaining extradition arrangements including the European Arrest Warrant; and maintaining England and Wales as the jurisdiction of choice, and the use of English and Welsh law across the globe.
The prospect of separation of the SRA and Law Society – along with other legal regulators from their representative bodies – was raised by the Treasury last year, with a consultation expected to be published this summer.
Dixon disagreed with her SRA counterpart Paul Philip during the evidence session over which body should ‘own’ professional standards, legal education and entry into the profession, and the awarding of the professional title of solicitor.