25 November, 2016
The CLC has today published two documents that will underpin its work in 2017 and beyond: the Annual Regulatory Return (ARR) Analysis 2016 and its business plan for 2017.
The analysis of the Annual Regulatory Return (ARR) looks at a great deal of information provided by firms regulated by the CLC about the systems and processes, staffing, clients and pricing. It is a detailed study of the regulated community that will inform the CLC’s work to protect consumers and foster innovation and competition legal services.
The CLC’s Business Plan sets out the CLC’s priorities for 2017, beginning with completion of the review of the CLC’s Handbook with a view to enhancing consumer protection and fostering innovation and competition in legal services. This will be accompanied by enhanced compliance support for firms. The CLC will also explore how to support consumers better in their choice of legal services provider and work with others to drive forward a review of the regulatory framework to include independence of all regulatory functions from representative bodies and consideration of the scope of regulation to replace the outdated system of ‘reservation’ with a risk-based approach.
Chief Executive of the CLC, Sheila Kumar said: “Insight from our surveys of the firms we regulate is invaluable. It informs our assessment of regulatory risks, supports policy development and identifies changes in the conveyancing and probate markets. This year’s Annual Regulatory Return contains a great deal of information about pricing and consumer engagement and so will help inform our response to the recommendations we expect from the Competition and Markets Authority’s legal services market study. It has also highlighted areas where further work is needed with the regulated community to embed good practice around diversity and inclusion to help firms offer good career progression opportunities to women and BME staff. Other areas of focus highlighted by the ARR include succession planning, client care and compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.
“In an independent study in early 2016, those we regulate reported that the CLC provides value for money and supports innovation and growth in their business and said that being regulated by the CLC is either ‘extremely’ or ‘mostly’ beneficial to their business. We aim to build on that success by continued close engagement with our regulated community and other stakeholders.”
Chair of the CLC, Dame Janet Paraskeva said: “The CLC’s Business Plan for 2017 is ambitious as we look to build on the very significant advances of the past three years. Following the successful reform of professional indemnity insurance that enhanced consumer protection and reduced the burden on firms, and the 20% cut in entity fee rates, we will complete our comprehensive review of the Handbook with the same objectives in mind.
“We have already begun work to look more closely at price transparency and consumer feedback as part of our focus on the consumer. At the same time, we have been pressing for the independence of all regulators as the vital first step in reform of legal services regulation to serve the public interest better. We are anxious to ensure that we have in place the best possible framework so that legal business can serve individuals and businesses better and meet the challenge of Brexit.”