Present Legal Regulatory system risks leaving public high and dry

Published: 25/09/2013

Concern is growing from all quarters of the legal profession that the present maze of legal regulation is leaving consumers out in the cold, confused and vulnerable to approaches from the alternative legal market.

Whilst on the one hand the legal services sector is highly regulated, on the other there are frequent reports of the publics’ low or falling trust in the legal profession. So... what is the reality?

Legal Services are already rigorously regulated and there is a debate now emerging about the current and future state of regulation in our sector,’ remarked Eddie Goldsmith, Senior Partner at property solicitors Goldsmith Williams.

‘Many law firms comply with the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and, as in the case of my own firm; some also hold the Law Society’s prestigious accreditation to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme. The sector also has oversight from the Legal Ombudsman who provides a final point of escalation for any client complaints. Recent coverage of this debate recognises this comprehensive framework and questions whether the requirements imposed by lender panels on a profession already adhering to quality standards such as the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme amounts to “double regulation”.

My concern is that this debate doesn’t address a more fundamental problem. I’m aware of a number of surveys that show the lack of public trust in the legal profession which tells me that there’s much more work to do communicating the regulatory safeguards that are in place to protect legal services clients’ interests.

I urge all brokers to join with conveyancers in addressing this communication gap. By stressing to clients the extensive and comprehensive regulation that legal services comply with, brokers can do much to build client confidence. And there is an opportunity too for brokers in explaining the professionalism of the conveyancer to also promote their own regulatory frameworks and client safeguards.’

Content correct at time of publication

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