The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has today (24 June) announced that one of its board members, Enid Rowlands, will succeed outgoing chair Charles Plant from 1 January 2015.
Having led the SRA board since January 2010, Plant’s term of office will officially end on 31 December 2014. His successor was chosen by an independent appointments panel, chaired by Elizabeth Filkin CBE, following an open competition. The term runs for an initial period of three years.
Rowlands has held her position on the SRA board since January 2013 and is the UK chair of Victim Support. She previously held roles with Consumer Focus, North Wales Police Authority, North Wales Health Authority, the Training Standards Council and S4C Broadcasting Authority.
The news follows the controversial move by the Legal Services Board (LSB) in May to strip the powers of the Law Society to appoint the SRA’s new chair, in a move designed to give the regulator greater independence. After the LSB amended its internal governance rules following a consultation period, all future appointments or reappointments to the boards of the front line regulators are now the responsibility of the profession’s regulatory, not representative arms, in contrast with a checks and balances approach originally envisaged by the Legal Services Act 2007.
Rowlands will also step into her new role during a period of change for the SRA, which in May approved an overhaul of its training regulations and continuing professional development (CPD) regime. It further unveiled ambitious plans to overhaul key pillars of the regulation of the profession in order to cut red tape, improve competition, cut costs and ensure that regulation is properly targeted.
Plant said: ‘Enid brings a wealth of experience from her roles in the public and voluntary sectors, and has an excellent understanding of regulation in the legal services market through her membership of the SRA board.
‘I look forward to working closely with her over the coming months to ensure a smooth and successful transition.’
Rowlands added: ‘I look forward to leading a highly able and committed board and an organisation comprised of talented individuals with a strong commitment to providing high-quality regulation in the public interest. There is much for the organisation to do to continue the programme of modernisation and liberalisation on which it has embarked. I have every confidence that it will be successful in delivering this programme and the benefits that it is designed to achieve.
‘I am particularly looking forward to developing strong and effective working relationships with those regulated by the SRA and with their representative bodies, and to developing a stronger dialogue with the users of legal services on whose behalf we regulate.’