SLCC backs English report endorsing mega regulator for legal services

The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) has backed a new report on the regulation of legal services south of the border.

The review by Stephen Mayson, honorary professor of law at University College, London, said a single regulator should regulate all providers of legal services.

His report, which runs to 340 pages, Reforming legal services: Regulation beyond the echo chambers, has been published following a two-year review and has been given to the Lord Chancellor.

“The conclusion of this review is that the regulatory framework should better reflect the legitimate needs and expectations of the more than 90 per cent of the population for whom it is not currently designed,” he wrote.

He added: “We have more lawyers than ever before, but more (and rising) instances of legal problems not being addressed.

“The regulation of legal services is not the cause of these concerns. But this report shows that sometimes it reinforces them, and sometimes it stands in the way of alternatives that could make a difference. It is time to reconsider.”

The SLCC said in a statement: “Professor Mayson’s comprehensive and thoughtful report is a significant and welcome contribution to the debate on legal services reform.

“Although focused on the different regulatory structures in England and Wales, many of the challenges and principles the report identifies are equally relevant to our context here in Scotland, and its recommendations for improvement are therefore vital reading for the Scottish legal services sector.

“Thirteen years on from the 2007 Act that created our current model of regulation, there is agreement across the sector that reform is needed; to better serve consumers seeking legal advice and representation, and to better reflect the legal services sector of today and of the future.

“Professor Mayson’s report adds to the growing bank of evidence, including the Scottish government’s own independent review which in 2018 recommended a single, independent regulator for Scotland. Had the sector supported this, Scotland’s legal sector could already have been leading reform, and benefiting from the opportunity to lead the market. Earlier this year the Competition and Markets Authority again intervened, raising further concerns about regulation and barriers to entry in Scotland.  Every report on the sector comes to the same conclusion - that bold reform is long overdue.

“The SLCC has made recommendations, and carefully considered and discussed proposals made by others. We continue to believe that the current regulatory and complaints framework is in need of fundamental reform to create an agile, future-proof, responsive and proportionate model of regulation. We stand ready to work with government and stakeholders across the sector to make that reform a reality.”

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