The Centre for Ethics and Law in the UCL Faculty of Laws is undertaking a fundamental review of the current regulatory framework for legal services, led by Honorary Professor Stephen Mayson.
The independent review is intended to explore the longer-term and related issues raised by the 2016 Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) market study, which concluded that the legal services sector is not working well for individual consumers and small businesses, and that the current regulatory framework is unsustainable in the long run. It called for a review of that framework to make it more flexible as well as targeted at areas of highest risk where regulation is most needed.
The review’s objectives will be to consider how the regulatory framework can best:
- promote and preserve the public interest in the rule of law and the administration of justice;
- maintain the attractiveness of the law of England & Wales for the governance of relationships and transactions and of our courts in the resolution of disputes;
- enhance the global competitiveness of our lawyers and other providers of legal services;
- reflect and respond flexibly to fast-changing market conditions being driven by innovation and advances in technology;
- protect and promote consumers’ interests, particularly in access to effective, ethical, innovative and affordable legal services and to justice; and
- lead the world in proportionate, risk-based and cost-effective regulation of legal services, consistent with the better regulation principles.
The review will reflect these objectives and consider how we can best ensure that our legal services remain of high quality and are effective, and that their regulation is proportionate and fit for purpose. It will also need to re-examine how to give the public much-needed transparency about the legal providers they use and the services they pay for, and ensure that they understand their options and the consequences of their choices.
The first two working papers are already published. Each of the working papers will address the issues and challenges raised by the four fundamental questions of the review:
- Why should we regulate legal services? (Rationale)
- What are the legal services that should be regulated? (Scope)
- Who should be regulated for the provision of legal services? (Focus)
- How should we regulate legal services? (Structure)
In pursuing its work, the review will seek to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties, including the CMA, the Legal Services Board, approved regulators, front-line regulators, representative bodies, consumers, the judiciary, practitioners, and providers of legal education and training.
It is now open for submissions in response to the working papers, and for meetings and discussions to explore the issues: to follow up, contact Professor Stephen Mayson.