The government has agreed to bring in regulation allowing different types of lawyers to work together without the need for a special licence, it was announced this morning (25 September).
The news came as the government published its response to the recommendations of the Joint Committee which scrutinised the draft Legal Services Bill.
The committee, led by Conservative peer Lord Hunt of Wirral, former senior partner of Beachcroft, recommended that the new legislation should allow legal disciplinary practices (LDPs) without outside ownership, which are currently not permitted and were not provided for in the draft Bill.
In its response, the government agreed, saying: “This should reduce a potential burden on firms and reduce costs to the consumer, while enabling greater liberalisation in the delivery of services.”
The government agreed with the majority of the committee’s recommendations. However it was at odds with the committee on several recommendations regarding the appointment of senior members of the new umbrella regulator, the Legal Services Board.
The committee and the government are also at odds over several aspects of the regulation of multi disciplinary practices, or alternative business structures (ABSs). While the committee recommended that a timetable for the introduction of ABSs be introduced, the government said this is unnecessary and would delay “implementation and the benefits to clients”.
The Legal Services Bill is expected to begin its passage through Parliament this autumn.