The Legal Services Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords last week (6 December). The bill received a lively reception, with several distinguished lords and ladies getting up to have their say on the ‘Clementi-isation’ of the legal profession – they even invented a new word.
Among the speakers was Lord Hunt of Wirral, formerly senior partner of Beachcroft and latterly chair of the joint committee that scrutinised the draft bill. Hunt was one of several lords who was shocked at the way the billwas potentially undermining the independence of the profession.
He pointed out that the number of references to “the Secretary of State” and his powers in relation to the Legal Services Board had increased from 111 in the draft bill to 288 in the published version – a comment prompting a “good gracious” from one noble lord at the debate.
The next stage for the bill is a full committee hearing, at which the fight for independence will continue. And then we’ll see who can come up with a better exclamation than ‘good gracious’.