Costs News

31 January 2019
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News in brief - 31.01.2019

Master Rogers passes away

Master Peter Rogers passed away earlier this month. He would have been 80 in April. He and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year.

A thanksgiving service is being held at Sevenoaks Methodist Church at 1.30pm on Monday 4 February. All are welcome.

 

CLSB: Our regulation is effective

The Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) has insisted that it is an “effective” regulator in the wake of the recent regulatory performance report from the Legal Services Board and blog by the chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, which we reported last week.

The CLSB has yet to make a direct response to either, but a section of its latest newsletter, issued this week, is clearly a veiled reference to the criticism.

“The primary aim of regulation under the Legal Services Act 2007 is consumer protection. Since 31 October 2011, the profession has proven itself to be of virtually no risk to the consumer. We believe the reasons for this are that Costs Lawyers do not handle client monies and in excess of 94% of their instructions are from an informed professional client,” it said.

Since that date, it said, there have been no “actionable consumer complaints” about any Costs Lawyer’s professional conduct, while there have been just five disciplinary matters, one arising from a Costs Lawyer’s employer, two due to solicitors on the other side of an action and two conduct issues picked up by the CLSB during its supervisory work.

Also in the past seven years, it said there have been only four consumer complaints about service to the Legal Ombudsman: one was dismissed, one was resolved between the parties and the other two saw the ombudsman award £100 to each complainant.

“Despite a sharp business model under which the CLSB has been able to keep the practising certificate fee at £250 for eight consecutive years, the cost to the profession of funding regulation under the Legal Services Act (including the Legal Services Board and Legal Ombudsman) during that period has been approximately £1m.

“Regulation under the Legal Services Act is comparable to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We have long advocated that its ‘one size fits all’ model of regulation is simply not justified for proven low-risk professions and professions who do not handle client monies.

“The CLSB regulates the profession based on its risk profile. Despite what you read, the CLSB board maintains that the CLSB is an effective, proportionate and cost-effective regulator.”

 

Costs Lawyer joins regulator’s board

Costs Lawyer Paul McCarthy, a partner and head of costs at Cheshire personal injury law firm CFG Law, has joined the board of the CLSB. He replaces Richard Allen, who has been a member from the start in 2011.

Also joining the board is lay member Stephanie McIntosh, who replaces David Gamble. She is director of member development and practice at the Parole Board, and an independent selection panellist for the Judicial Appointments Commission. Ms McIntosh was previously the Horserace Betting Levy Board’s grants manager. Though qualified as a solicitor later in her career, she decided not to go into legal practice. 

 

New power to backdate legal aid decisions

Discretionary powers to backdate certain legal aid determinations are to be given to the Director of Legal Aid Casework from 20 February 2019, after which the ‘out of hours’ service will be closed.

They mean that legal aid will be available to cover urgent work carried out before the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) makes a determination. Where appropriate, providers will be able to apply to backdate a determination to cover any urgent work they have started e.g. at the weekend.

The new power will also allow the LAA to amend and backdate the scope of legal aid authorised under a certificate. This includes where the determination is made following a review or appeal. The LAA said it would provide more detail before the legislation comes into force.

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