Clementi response draws a blank as Law Society Council fails to decide

The Law Society Council last week rejected proposals to divest professional legal bodies of regulatory powers, but was unable to agree an alternative model.

The council’s principal concern was a desire to preserve the independence of the legal profession, with a clear separation from government. In a vote at the end of the debate, held last Wednesday (12 May), members rejected unanimously the proposed regulatory model A, which resembles the Financial Services Authority.

However, the council was unable to reach a conclusion on the other two proposed models, B and B+.

Instead, more than 65 per cent of members voted to agree that the council “cannot express a view” on which model would be best suited to meet the Law Society’s requirements.

In comparison, the City Law Society, in its partial draft response published last Thursday (13 May), expressed a strong preference for model B+. It stated: “It would improve the promotion of the public and consumer interest, but at the same time keep strong professional input into the regulatory standards and rules.”

The other issues covered by the review – complaints handling, governance and alternative business structures – were touched on only briefly during Wednesday’s debate.

Both the Law Society and the City Law Society agree that complaints handling should be paid for principally by the practitioner whose work gives rise to the complaint.