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The Legal Services Board has called on parliament to set up a single regulator for the legal services sector which would absorb all eight current frontline regulators (including the Costs Lawyer Standards Board).
Iain Stark, chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers, sensibly opposes this change and was quoted in Solicitors Journal as saying:
“A one size fits all approach to regulation simply is not feasible. This is echoed by the Legal Services Act itself, which was designed with the big three regulators in mind and not the regulation of the wider legal community.”
These proposed changes highlight the problems I identified back in 2010 when the ACL was deciding whether to remain a regulated profession:
“Once regulated under the Act, there is no way of knowing what may be demanded in the future. Only a moment’s thought will reveal the LSB might demand almost anything at some future date. Does the ALCD really want to lock itself into a regulatory system over which it would have no control?”
When put to the vote, it did.
Stark goes on:
“The only reason for a single regulator would be with a view to extending the net wider than simply those current authorised providers and bring into the arena the current wealth of non-regulated professions that ply their trade within the legal sector and earn a living, such as claims management companies, process servers, witness statements takers and not forgetting law costs draftsmen.”
I’m not sure I entirely follow the logic of that. If one believes that all those working in legal costs should be regulated (itself a highly questionable proposition) there seems no reason why this should not be done by a dedicated regulator. It would be one size fits all for those in costs but not one size for all those doing anything remotely connected with the law.