Legal Services Board strives for excellence

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has promised to develop “excellence” in legal services regulation in its first business plan.

The new regulatory body, which will overarch the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), will come into being in January 2010 and has pledged to make the regulation of legal services a model of best practice within three years.

The body’s business plan outlines seven core objectives, including widening access to the legal market though the introduction of alternative business structures (ABS). This will be underpinned with a series of key aims, which include assessing the impact of ABSs on consumers and identifying actual consumer experience of legal services provision.

A consumer panel will be established by the end of the 2009-10 year and will set out its own business plan. The panel will also contribute to policy formation for the LSB’s 2009-10 business plan.

In addition the panel will deliver a consistent regulatory approach to the use of referral fees.

The body, which has also pledged to be completely transparent, has estimated that its costs for the 2009-10 financial year will be £4.74m, reducing to £4.5m by the 2011-12 year-end.

LSB timetable

April-June 2009

* Appoint consumer panel chair

* Issue discussion paper on the development of ABS

* Engage with interested parties to identify areas of work within the diversity agenda where the regulator can add value

July-September 2009

* Appoint consumer panel members

* Issue consultation on core requirements of first tier complaint handling processes

* Develop proposals for consultation on policy statement on enforcement and disciplinary rules

October-December 2009

* Consult on policy statement on ABS

* Publish details of approach to measuring regulatory performance

* Publish rules on enforcement and disciplinary arrangements

January-March 2010

* Commence regulatory reviews

* Publish a paper on the challenges for legal services regulators

* Initial payment received from the levy