Legal Services Act: New forms of practice and regulation
The deadline for submission of comments on this paper was 14 December 2007. For related reports and recommendations, please go to Legal Services Act.
This paper takes a high level look at the changes to the structure and regulation of legal practices that will be enabled by the Legal Services Act ("the Act").
The Act will allow new kinds of legal practices to be developed in which solicitors may join with other kinds of lawyers and non-lawyers to form practices (legal disciplinary practices, or LDPs). In the longer term, alternative business structures (ABSs) will allow lawyers to go into multidisciplinary practices with other kinds of professionals, and allow non-lawyers to own firms which provide legal services.
These changes have been introduced by the Government to improve competition, flexibility, and choice for consumers. The job of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is to introduce them in such a way that the public interest and, in particular, solicitors' clients are properly protected.
This paper sets out in broad terms the way in which the SRA envisages changing the rules that apply to solicitors' firms—to allow for new forms of practice and to move towards regulating the firms through which solicitors practise.
Much of this paper concerns an increased emphasis on regulating firms: the SRA's view is that it is often more effective—and less burdensome—to regulate the organisations providing legal services than to attempt to do this through each solicitor in a firm. But we consider it essential for each solicitor to remain individually accountable to the SRA for their own professional behaviour.
This paper sets out the likely timescale for change and invites views on the broad strategy we propose to adopt. Your comments will inform the development of consultations on changes to rules, regulations and procedures.
The Act has only just received Royal Assent and was subject to significant change at a late stage. There will be huge interest in developing the new forms of practice that the Act will enable. In order to assist the business planning activities of everyone who is currently working in legal services or may wish to do so in the future, we want to set out and invite comments on our intentions and a possible timetable, at this early stage.
The paper is aimed at
Go to Part 1 of the paper—or read on to find out how to respond.
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Invitation to comment
Changes in regulation are required by the Legal Services Act in order to allow for new forms of legal practice. We have described the way we plan to approach the changes.
We encourage you to comment on our current thinking—so that upcoming consultations can address all of the key issues. Please tell us if you have any initial concerns about the matters below.
We also ask that you give us early warning of any potential equality and diversity impact of our proposed approach to the changes in regulation required by the Act.
How to respond
Please note: We published the invitation to comment on 5 November 2007. The deadline for submission of comments was 14 December 2007.
What happens next?
- We will take your comments into account as we are developing rules, regulations and new procedures.
- Detailed, upcoming consultations may refer to the fact that development work has been influenced by your comments.
How we will communicate with you
- We are unable to acknowledge individual responses. We take this opportunity to thank you for your comments.
- We encourage you to visit our website. Please bookmark sra.org.uk/LSA for the latest information on regulatory changes required by the Legal Services Act.
- SRA Update, our e-newsletter for regulated individuals, includes news about our plans, progress and regulatory changes. If you are a working solicitor, trainee solicitor, registered European lawyer or a law student with an SRA student number, we send you SRA Update as a matter of course—as long as you have supplied us with a contact email address and have not previously unsubscribed. To ensure that the SRA has your current contact email address on record, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, asking us to note your current email address.
- To stay informed about our consultations on regulatory changes required by the Legal Services Act, subscribe to SRA consultation alerts.