A recent interim report on legal services of the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) in England & Wales has emphasised the importance of independent regulation of the solicitors’ profession in that jurisdiction.

Response to Interim Report

The report has been welcomed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the body to whom the regulation of solicitors is delegated. Responding to the publication of the interim report, the SRA indicated that the emphasis placed on independent regulation in the interim report will serve to increase competition and will improve consumer choice by removing barriers to new firms and new business models entering the legal services market. The SRA has called on the CMA to propose a specific remedy in its final report tasking the UK government with bringing forward legislation securing the independence of regulation from professional bodies.

Irish Position

In this jurisdiction, the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 (the “Act”), which was signed into law by the President on 30 December 2015, establishes an independent statutory regulator for all legal practitioners in the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (the “LSRA”).

Mirroring some of those reforms envisaged by the CMA interim report, the Act provides for an independent public complaints regime; a new Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal; business models for legal practitioners including barrister & solicitor partnerships; Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and Multi-Disciplinary Practices.

The publication of the final CMA report is expected in December 2016.

The interim report can be accessed here.