The Legal Services Act
What is the Legal Services Act?
The Legal Services Act is the body of legislation which deals with the issue of legal services in England and Wales. Such issues dealt with by the Act can range from the requirements that firms of solicitors are required to posses before they can operate in England and Wales and how the legal institutions are regulated.
The Legal Services Act 2007 received Royal Assent on the 30 October 2007. The reason for the introduction of the Act in 2007 was to bring in certain reforms which were felt necessary for the way legal services are provided in England and Wales.
What is the main purpose of the Legal Services Act 2007?
The Ministry of Justice has stated that the Legal Services Act seeks to reform the way that legal services in England and Wales are regulated and to put consumer interest at the heart of the regulatory framework.
What were the main reasons why reform was considered necessary?
Reform of the legal services market in the UK was considered necessary for the following reasons:
To simplify the complex and inconsistent system or oversight regulatory arrangements in the legal services market
To provide common standards for professional practice
To increase competition, flexibility and choice for the consumer seeking legal services
What were the key changes brought about by the act?
The key changes which were brought about to the legal services market by the Legal Services Act are as follows:
A single supervisory body was created called the Legal Services Board (LSB) with the power to oversee all approved regulators in the legal services market such as the Law Society and the Bar Council
A single body to deal with the initial stages of consumer complaints about legal services was created called the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC)
The creation of alternative business structures (ASBs) in order to allow lawyers to form partnerships with non-lawyers accepting outside investment or being able to operate under external ownership
A requirement for professional bodies to clearly separate their representative and regulatory functions
Creating statutory objectives and duties for all regulatory bodies
For more information on:
- Alternative Business Structures
- What is meant by an alternative business structure?
- Is there any advantage to the legal industry following this reform?
- What areas of the legal services are expected to be affecting by the change in the law?
- What will be the advantage for the consumer when this change in the law becomes apparent?
- Are there any disadvantages to this provision of legal services?
- The Level of Service
- The understanding of various legal issues