The City of London Law Society (CLLS) has urged the Legal Services Board (LSB) to acknowledge corporate clients in its regulatory agenda.
The call came after the LSB, which will overarch the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Law Society when it comes into force in January, published its first business plan, in which it pledged to make the regulation of legal services a model of best practice by 2013.
In March a report commissioned by the Law Society criticised the current regulatory framework and said it was in urgent need of modernisation. Report author and former Ministry of Justice (MoJ) civil servant Nick Smedley said the most pressing consideration was the need for a unit to regulate firms with corporate clients.
The report said: “Without rapid change, it’s impossible to conclude that the current regulatory arrangements are fit for purpose.”
However, the LSB business plan makes no mention of the Smedley review.
CLLS chairman David McIntosh, who has pushed for a separate regulatory unit to oversee corporate firms, said: “Our consumers are sophisticated, regular and demanding users of legal services who have bargaining power at least equal to that of the firms they use.
“The protection they need from solicitors is not that which is required by the man in the street, and therefore the regulation we need is very different. The SRA needs to be resourced properly to look after the City firms.”
The LSB plans to establish a consumer panel by the end of the 2009-10 financial year and McIntosh said he hoped City firms would be “strongly represented” on the roster.