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15 June 2021
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LSB commends cost lawyers’ regulator improvements

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has published an updated assessment of the Costs Lawyer Standards Board’s (CLSB) regulatory performance, commending the CLSB for an improved performance. 

CLSB regulates costs lawyers in England and Wales. Like all legal regulators, it is subject to certain requirements under the Legal Services Act 2007. 

In January 2019, the LSB assessed the CLSB against 27 outcomes across five standards. The CLSB was the poorest performing regulator, with nine unmet outcomes. However, the latest assessment has judged the regulator as meeting 26 of 27 outcomes.

Under new leadership, CLSB embarked on a performance improvement plan, which appears to be paying dividends. It made several alterations to its regulatory arrangements and transparency of its board level decision making and demonstrated how it uses evidence to inform its regulatory approach.  

The LSB also said it evidenced development of a clear and thorough understanding of its community’s diversity profile, enabling it to better monitor and evaluate the impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

LSB chief executive Matthew Hill said: “This is welcome progress for one of the legal services sector’s smallest regulators. CLSB has demonstrated its commitment to addressing the weaknesses identified through our performance assessments”.

He added: “This means the public and the profession can have confidence that, among other things, the regulator is consumer-focused, well-led, makes evidence-based decisions and is committed to improving diversity and inclusion.”

Hill acknowledged: “There remains work to do, and we expect CLSB to maintain this pace of improvement and demonstrate how it will evaluate and learn from its progress to increase performance year-on-year in pursuit of the regulatory objectives”.

One area that still requires improvement is CLSB’s consumer engagement plan. CLSB was asked to demonstrate active use of its consumer engagement plan, in particular its consumer outcomes framework, once operationalised. 

The LSB has also asked to be updated by 31 October 2021 on further progress against CLSB’s 2021 business plan priorities for improving its regulatory arrangements.

In response, Claire Green, chair of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said: “We recognise the importance of a strong and capable regulator for the reputation of, and confidence in, the costs lawyer profession. 

“The CLSB should be commended for the work that has gone into meeting the LSB’s requirements, which reinforces the value of solicitors and others instructing fully trained and regulated costs lawyers.

“Our working relationship with the CLSB has never been better and the recent appointment of David Heath as chair of the CLSB shows that its trajectory continues upwards.”

This article appeared in the Solicitors Journal on 14 June 2021

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