An overwhelming majority of Council members today (Thursday 16 December) voted to review the Law Society’s position on referral fees.
Following work carried out by the society’s Standards Board on ways to carry out the review, members voted by a majority of 68 votes to nine, with six abstentions, to undertake the review.
Amendments proposed by members Tim Readman and Derek French to completely reinstate the ban with immediate effect were defeated by a two-thirds majority.
The votes mean that the society will now carry out discussions with the profession, clients and other bodies into referral fees and their use.
Today’s decision follows a request from Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Master of the Rolls, that a review be carried out once referral fees had been permitted for a year. The former ban on referral fees was lifted in March this year.
It also comes just months after a postal vote of the profession showed that three-quarters of solicitors are opposed to referral fees. However the Standards Board chair, Andrew Holroyd, refuted suggestions that the review had been prompted by that vote and said it had always been on the board’s agenda.
Many of those who spoke in favour of carrying out a review were against the principle of referral fees, but felt that reviewing the policy was the best way forward.,