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Report reveals Legal Services Act is positive but still needs more reform

5th July 2016

Legal Services Act still needs reform

A report by the Legal Services Board has highlighted that although the Legal Services Act has made a positive change, there is still a lot of reform needed.

The act, which was brought in by the government in 2007, aimed to liberalise and regulate the market for legal services in England and Wales.

The report by the Legal Services Board looked at the changes in the market from 2007-2015. It found that the quality of legal services has improved since the reforms were first introduced, but that the aims to increase competition and making access to justice more affordable has not yet been achieved.

Interestingly for those employed in legal jobs, the report discovered that the turnover of the UK legal sector is at an all-time high after bringing in £32 billion in 2015. However, spending on legal aid has dropped by 22 per cent since the creation of the act.

The legal market needs more reform

Speaking in the Law Society Gazette, the Legal Services Board’s chair, Sir Michael Pitt, said, “'The LSB believes that the market needs to change further and the pace of change needs to increase. We need to break down regulatory barriers to competition, innovation and growth.”

The report said that private litigation is still unaffordable for the average adult in England and Wales, and this needs to change. More competition is another aspect that needs to improve, with the study highlighting that only a quarter of alternative business structures regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) were set up by new entrants, whilst a lowly 1.4 per cent of chartered legal executives have taken advantage of additional practising rights.

The solicitors’ market has improved with solicitor firms seeing turnover increase from £2 million in 2011 to £2.4 million in 2015.

The research by the Legal Services Board also found that technology is now being used more and the use of social media by law firms has seen a huge spike.

Catherine Dixon, who is the chief executive of the Law Society, feels that the legal regulatory system is working.

She added, “We agree with the LSB that broadly speaking the legal regulatory system is working effectively. The system is relatively new and changes are still being embedded.”

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