A single independent regulator for the legal profession to replace the “confusing maze” of current regulation has been called for by the Legal Services Board Consumer Panel.The panel was responding to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) consultation into the legal services regulatory framework.

The MoJ launched the review of regulation in June 2013 in response to the concerns of many in the legal profession about the regulatory burden. “The complexities of the current legal services regulatory landscape have been raised with ministers by a number of different stakeholders and through the Red Tape Challenge, and ministers have decided to undertake a review of the legal services statutory framework,” said Justice Minister Helen Grant.

The first stage of the review was a ‘call for evidence’ from stakeholders.  The outcome of this consultation, which closed on 2 September, will now be analysed to identify ways in which regulation may be simplified.  The MoJ will consider all aspects of the current legislative framework, which covers 10 pieces of primary legislation and over 30 statutory instruments.

The current system isn’t delivering the outcomes consumers need, offering instead a confusing maze where consumers can find themselves at a dead end due to gaps in redress and regulation. The patchwork of regulators is an expensive duplication of effort that no-one can afford to persevere with,” said Elisabeth Davies, Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel.

The Law Society however disagrees that the single regulator approach is appropriate.  “We recognise that more could be done to streamline processes for clients but we believe that this can be done without the need for the creation of a new regulator,” it said in a press release.

Whatever the final outcome of the MoJ’s review of the regulatory framework, it is likely that there will be changes in the way the legal profession is regulated,” said James Burgoyne, Director, Brunel Professional Risks.  “This will almost certainly have an impact on the way that professional negligence cases are handled and in turn on the professional indemnity insurance market.  We are watching developments very carefully to assess the changing regulatory environment and its interface with PII  cover.”

Further information about the review is available from the Ministry of Justice, Red Tape Challenge and Legal Services Board Consumer Panel.  The review has also been reported in Solicitors Journal and Legal Futures.