Legal Business Blogs

‘Create an environment where you’re not necessary’ – Grayling tells LSB to work towards its abolition

The Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling yesterday (4 June) outlined plans for the Legal Services Board (LSB) to wind itself down as part of efforts to streamline an over-regulated profession.

Speaking last night (4 June) at the presidential dinner held by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), to an audience including Lords Dyson, Bach, Leveson, and Supreme Court Justice Clarke, Grayling (pictured) outlined the need for regulatory overhaul including scrapping the LSB.

Grayling said: ‘I think there are too many layers of the regulators. I have said to [LSB Chairman] Sir Michael Pitt that during his time at the Legal Services Board, success means creating an environment where that organisation is not necessary in the long term. This won’t happen overnight but I am clear that this should be the direction of travel.’

In the LSB’s September 2013 blueprint for reforming legal services regulation, the overarching regulator suggested working towards a single, smaller regulator across the entire legal profession, meaning the LSB would be phased out.

Yesterday’s speech made it clear that Grayling is in agreement with at least part of those proposals.

The LSB told Legal Business today: ‘We have been quite clear in the past that the LSB as an organisation is not something that is here forever. We have always said that our size, cost and duration would be determined by ability of front line regulators to prove by performance that we weren’t necessary.

‘Indeed in our blueprint response to the MoJ’s review of legal regulation last summer we advocated the creation, in due course, of a single legal regulator. Which by necessity would see the abolition of the LSB in that process.

‘The Lord Chancellor didn’t say anything last night we haven’t already said ourselves and when the time is right there should be no need for the LSB or any similar oversight regulator for legal services.’

Since the Legal Services Act 2007 came into force there have been continual disputes between the LSB, the Law Society and the Bar Council.

Speaking at a conference on 29 April, a few days before his departure, then LSB chairman David Edmonds said: ‘We have two very strong trade unions who often do not appear to accept the legitimacy of the role of the LSB and / or other parts of the 2007 Act.

‘Working with the primary regulators the LSB has had battle after battle. But when we have faced legal challenge to our interpretation of our role to the powers that we have, our understanding of the Act, backed by the Courts, seems to have been rather better than those of the trade unions.’