Tuesday 21 December 2010

Turmoil for the legal profession

The legal profession is undergoing a period of change and review more far-reaching than anything it has experienced before. The following consultations (which will lead to change) and already decided changes are under way (thanks to Rob Hailstone of the Bold Group for drawing all this together) -

SRA Consultations: The new SRA Handbook: This consultation is the last opportunity for comments on the SRA's new Handbook which will underpin the regulation of solicitors and law firms from October 2011. This paper provides more detail on the regulatory framework for both traditional law firms and Alternative Business Structures. Ends - 13 January 2011

Future Client Financial Protection arrangements: Comments are invited on proposals for amendments to client financial protection arrangements from October 2011. These proposals follow on from the independent review of the current client financial protection arrangements undertaken for us by Charles River Associates. Ends - 28 February 2011

Sole Practice: Modernising Authorisation: The proposal is to bring the process for authorising sole practitioner law firms in line with the way in which all other firms will be authorised. Ends—8 March 2011

Legal Services Board Consultations: Referral fees, referral arrangements and fee sharing: Ends – 22nd December 2010

ABS (Alternative Business Structures for providing legal services) consultation - Further rules regarding licensed bodies: Ends - 21st February 2011

Ministry of Justice PII: Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales: This consultation seeks views on proposals for reform of legal aid in England and Wales. One option is to use client account interest to help bolster the Legal Aid Fund. Ends – 14th February 2011

The Law Society PII Guide: The fourth edition of Insurance Matters, a free bulletin on solicitors' professional indemnity insurance (PII), can be downloaded: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/new/documents/2010/insurancematters4.pdf - It includes articles on the outcome of the 2010 renewal process, conveyancing fraud, and risk management.

Changes to the CML Lenders' Handbook
The Council of Mortgage Lenders updated the Lenders' Handbook on 1 December: The changes affecting solicitors include:
• new requirements where the solicitor acting for the lender is not familiar with the seller's solicitors
• lenders can stipulate whether they require notification of the name and address of the sellers

Lawyers need to be ready for this future. Whether it is an improvement remains to be seen

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