Clementi prompts Law Society to split functions

The Law Society Council today (Thursday 20 January) agreed to establish separate regulation and complaints handling bodies.

The move has come after work carried out by a Governance Review Group established especially to examine the regulatory and representative functions of the society. It is in line with recommendations made by Sir David Clementi in his review of the regulatory framework for legal services in December.

Both bodies will be separate from the Law Society Council, with no member of either group able to serve simultaneously on the council. While the regulatory body will have a majority of solicitor members along with a “substantial proportion” of lay members, the complaints handling body will have a lay majority and a lay chair.

Appointments to the two bodies will be made using Nolan principles, overseen by the Master of the Rolls. Work will commence in January 2006, although the two groups will be established on a shadow basis in September this year.

While the regulatory body will deal with all the society’s regulatory policy, the consumer complaints body will oversee the society’s handling of complaints. It will also work to transfer the Law Society’s complaints handling function to the new Office for Legal Complaints proposed by Clementi.

Janet Paraskeva, the society’s chief executive, said the decision will ensure full separation of the regulatory and representative functions of the Law Society.