The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has accused the Law Society of overstepping its remit by launching a potentially dramatic review of the regulation of the legal profession.
The Law Society publicly announced a review, which could result in the creation of ;separate ;regulatory regimes for large corporate firms and their high street counterparts, last Thursday (TheLawyer.com, 9 October).
The SRA immediately responded with a strongly worded statement in which the body’s chairman Peter Williamson said the Law Society appeared to be “confusing representative and regulatory functions”.
Russell Wallman, director of government relations at the Law Society, responded: “I’m slightly surprised at that. We know perfectly well which decisions are for us and which aren’t.”
The SRA claimed it had only been told about the review into its powers on Wednesday (8 October), the day before the Law Society made it public.
Williamson said it was “extraordinary” that the SRA, which was recently established by the Law Society to regulate the profession, was given such short notice.
A source close to the situation commented: “I’m not surprised. The SRA wants to be independent and isn’t very keen on oversight, but there needs to be oversight.”
The Legal Services Board, which was established under the Legal Services Act 2007, will ultimately be responsible for policing the boundaries between the Law Society’s representative and the SRA’s regulatory functions.