Clementi backs govt appointments stance

Sir David Clementi last night controversially backed the Lord Chancellor’s push to have the head of the Legal Services Board (LSB) appointed by the secretary of state.

Clementi voiced his support for a Government appointed head at Bar Standards Board – the new regulating body for barristers – first annual debate since its formation, saying it would not be detrimental to the independence of British legal system.

Geoffrey Vos QC, the Bar Council chair, who participated in the debate, staunchly opposed Clementi’s view.

“The legal profession must stay independent and not controlled by the state in anyway,” said Vos. “The Lord Chief Justice is a lawyer himself and appoints the judiciary independently from the Government. Why can’t the same situation be in place for the profession as a whole?”

Clementi supported Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, on his rebuttal of the Lord Chief Justice being allowed to appoint the head of the LSB. He said that historically the Prime Minister appoints the Lord Chief Justice, so in essence, he is not independent either.

Vos, however, said that Bars across the globe, including France and Germany, currently see the British legal system as independent but a Government appointment to the LSB would be perceived internationally as the UK legal profession losing its autonomy, which would be detrimental.

Law Society president Fiona Woolf also, recently, expressed her discontent about the Government appointing the LSB chief.