19 November, 2015
Dame Janet Paraskeva, the new Chair of the specialist property law regulator, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), highlighted some strategic challenges for regulators of legal services when she spoke on Wednesday 18th November at the annual conference of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers.
Dame Janet called for the full implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 to afford law firms a genuine free choice of the regulator best suited to the long-term development of their businesses, citing the current operation of professional indemnity insurance as a barrier to that free choice. She also called for the complete separation of representation and regulation in the legal sector to ensure clarity and transparency in regulation.
Dame Janet promised that the CLC’s 2016 review of all of its regulatory arrangements would examine every aspect of the CLC’s approach, from the code of conduct to the Compensation Fund. The objective of that will be to ensure that the CLC can continue to support innovation and growth in the legal sector for the benefit of the consumer and to support the growth of thriving legal businesses.
Dame Janet said: “After nearly ten years away from the legal sector I was surprised to find how little had apparently changed and how the freedoms promised by the Legal Services Act have yet to be fully explored and exploited by law firms to find new ways to meet consumer expectation and fuel growth of legal businesses. While there is a clear will now, it seems that front line regulators in the legal sector have not been able to cooperate to the degree necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the market. We are also looking to work with financial services regulators and the Competition and Markets Authority.”
Sheila Kumar, Chief Executive of the CLC said: “The regular review of the CLC’s Handbook and financial protection arrangements taking place in 2016 will be thorough and fundamental. As well as ensuring effective consumer protection in a contemporary context, the reforms we make will aim to continue our mission to foster innovation and competition in the provision of conveyancing and probate services. It will take forward our work over the past three years in which we have made major changes to our structures and processes to deliver our work more efficiently and in ways that take into account the changing legal services market and the business models of CLC regulated firms. The 2016 review is the next step in delivering the CLC’s strategy to exploit to the full the benefits of specialised, activity-based regulation of specialist property law services which provides an alternative and contemporary model of regulation.”