Morning, Tuesday, 15th September 2020
***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will be a timely opportunity to discuss the recommendations from the final report of the Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation, expected to be published this summer.
The leader of the review Professor Stephen Mayson, Centre for Ethics & Law, UCL is a keynote speaker at this conference.
Key areas for discussion include:
- the regulatory framework - its future and the respective roles of the different regulators and how they interrelate,
- consumers - protection, and improving their experience and engagement with legal services,
- legal technology - challenges for the sector in adoption, and issues that its use raises for regulation, and
- the legal market - impact of the entry of professional services firms, competition, and the future of reserved activities.
Background that is relevant to the discussion:
- Professor Mayson’s Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation is expected to make recommendations for the design of a system which meets the following goals:
- promoting public interest in the rule of law;
- enhancing the global competitiveness of legal service providers in England and Wales; and
- responding to fast-changing market conditions; and promote and protect consumer interests.
Following the interim report, he has also confirmed that the final report will include suggestions for a move away from regulating lawyers by their professional title and, instead, towards the work they undertake - with contested views emerging on whether activity licensing is a preferable model to the current regulation of title within the legal profession.
Further developments include:
- Concerns raised by the Legal Services Board:
- on transparency and slow progress in this area flowing from the 2007 Act, and
- that much of the population still struggles with accessing the law and that regulatory action may be needed to address this issue, as explored in their recent legal capability report measuring legal confidence, legal self-efficacy and accessibility of justice.
- The revisit of legal services by CMA due by the end of 2020, examining progress, and scope for further action on consumer protection since the CMA’s last review of the sector in 2016;
- Recent findings of low awareness amongst consumers of legal services of:
- legal regulations,
- complaints procedures and avenues for redress, and
- the role and function of the Legal Ombudsman.
- The Legal Services Consumer Panel’s recent consumer impact report highlighting challenges for customers choosing their legal services provider, and very low use of price comparison websites.
The discussion in detail:
It takes place with:
- The Independent Review’s proposals and their implications for firms, alternative providers, consumers and regulatory bodies;
- The impact of the CMA’s Legal Services market study conducted in 2016, and issues it raised including on:
- consumer protection,
- redress for users of unauthorised services,
- encouraging competition by providing open data to support price comparison websites, and
- the Scottish model for legal services - with recommendations to separate the regulative and representative functions of the Law Society of Scotland.
- The effect of the entry of a number of professional and financial service providers into the legal services market, including tech-based solutions, looking at:
- latest trends and likely future scenarios for the legal services market and the legal profession,
- whether further changes are required in the focus and function of regulators in the industry,
- the transformation of many law firms to professional service companies offering a range of services since the implementation of Legal Services Act 2007, and
- the suitability of the Act’s regulatory framework into the future in the context of these and other changes in the legal services market.
- Practical solutions for increasing transparency, such as bolstering current requirements for law firms to publish fees and regulatory status clearly online; and
- Global competitiveness of legal service providers in England and Wales, and how the market is responding to new technologies and fast-changing conditions alongside promoting consumer interests.
We also expect discussion on:
- Pros and cons of activity licensing versus the current regulation of title, with calls for an expansion to the number of legal services currently regulated and thus open to redress;
- The Legal Ombudsman‘s powers with regard to complaint procedures being extended to include the authority to begin its own investigations, even when a complaint has not been made;
- The potential impact and importance for England and Wales’ legal services market structure - regarding the CMA’s recommendations for legal services in Scotland; and
- Priorities for improving access to justice during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people are seeking legal advice for employment and housing problems.
- The Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation - key findings and the next steps for implementation;
- Regulating legal services - market structures, transparency, and the future roles of regulators;
- Consumer protection, managing unmet legal need and simplifying redress;
- Alternative approaches to regulating legal services and how the Scottish model works in practice - a case study;
- The expansion of legal service provision - technology adoption and innovation in the market; and
- The next steps for legal services policy development.
Policy officials attending:
Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.
Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as senior representatives from law firms, other professional services firms, business analysts, technology companies, charities and campaign groups, academics and commentators, as well as other interested in the issues being discussed, along with reporters from the national and specialist media.
This is a full-scale conference taking place online***
- full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
- information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
- conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
- speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
- opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
- a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
- delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
- networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!
Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference