In the Media

Edmonds: single legal regulator ?possible within three years?

PUBLISHED March 19, 2013

Tuesday 19 March 2013 by John Hyde

Legal Services Board chairman David Edmonds said today that a single rolled-up regulator for solicitors and barristers could be created within three years.

Edmonds (pictured) told the House of Commons justice committee that the current framework of multiple regulators for different areas of the legal profession could be 'easily simplified'.

The super-regulator has faced criticism from the profession for so-called 'mission creep' in recent weeks and MPs pressed Edmonds on whether the LSB had now achieved what it was intended to do when it was created by the Legal Services Act.

Edmonds said he rejected many of the criticisms of his organisation but admitted there were tensions with approved regulators. He said there was a need for the LSB at present but backed an overhaul of the regulatory regime if it meant less confusion for the public.

He said: 'We're looking at a quantum leap in quality of legal services compared to before the act. We have done what parliament intended us to.

'It is a very interesting question for parliament whether, going forward, you need the LSB and Bar Standards Board, the Law Society and six other regulators sitting underneath it.

'I am beginning to think of how a future might be improved. I don't see in two or three years why it would not be possible to create a regulator that applied itself across the whole landscape. It would be clearer for consumers and lawyers but there would be enormous resistance if we attempted to rein it in.'

Edmonds told MPs that his board was aware of the difficulties faced by many law firms and had sought to bring the average cost to lawyers of the LSB down from £33 to £28 a year.

'I think we're quite good value for 50 or 60p a week for a solicitor or barrister,' he added. 'We don't believe we have imposed costs on the profession which are disproportionate.'