Law Soc sits on survey results

THE results of a controversial Law Society survey asking solicitors whether they want the rules on referral payments tightened up has been kept under wraps by the society for more than three months.

Law Society staff received 1,000 replies at the beginning of April from a consultation on the Solicitors' Introduction and Referral Code. It was carried out among all 4,500 firms in England and Wales in January.

But the society is refusing to disclose the results of the survey until after they have been considered by the standards and guidance committee on 16 July.

It is understood that a report on the results was pulled at the eleventh hour from the front page of the Law Society's magazine The Gazette because the committee had not yet considered the results.

A Law Society spokesman denied that the society had been unduly secretive. He said: “We will publish this when we are ready.” He insisted there was “no great conspiracy” about the results, which would eventually be published in “all their transparent glory”. Alison Crawley, Law Society head of ethics and policy, said the result had shown solicitors to be “broadly” against changing to the existing referral rule.

The issue is highly controversial. Last year the leadership of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers attempted to introduce a tough code of conduct banning referral fees. But a rebellion among members led to the code being watered down.