Failure to stamp out rogue lawyers ‘starting to look ridiculous’, says LSB chief

Comments are off for this post.

The outgoing head of the profession’s umbrella regulator has declared that failure to root out systemic misconduct is starting to undermine public confidence in lawyers.

Matthew Hill, who stands down as the chief executive of the Legal Services Board next month, said the sector has to be ‘more honest with ourselves’ about the extent of poor behaviour. It was no longer helpful to simply regard examples of this as a ‘few bad apples’.

Citing the role of lawyers in the Post Office scandal, the drafting of inappropriate NDAs and issuing of SLAPPS, Hill said there had to be an acceptance there had been a ‘strategic failing’ with current approaches to regulation.

‘While we have seen some welcome movements to reflect issues of public concern, for example the warning notice on SLAPPs and NDAs, the response has been slower and less extensive that any reasonable person would expect,’ he told a Westminster Legal Policy Forum on ethics last Friday.

‘The public concern is now so widespread that the continued lack of energy from the regulators to grapple meaningfully with the issue is starting to look quite stark and one might say ridiculous.’

Hill suggested that the rules are drafted so as to allow legal professionals to be technically compliant but still act unethically. He added the public would be concerned that some lawyers appear not to owe any obligation to the broader public interest, but instead act as ‘hired goons’ to conduct litigation.

‘You can have all the guidance and warning notices, code of conduct you like but if you can’t turn that into results so people can see there are consequences for wrongdoing it is all a bit pointless,’ said Hill. he added that the legal sector should be more proactive in stamping out misconduct and focus more on wider issues rather than individual transgressions.

‘There is cause for scepticism about the ability of the hundreds and even thousands of rules that make up various regulatory codes of conduct to drive the behaviours and values that the public has the right to demand of legal professionals.’

Meanwhile, the Law Society has called on the oversight regulator LSB to concentrate on its core activities and not encroach on work already being done elsewhere.

Commenting on the LSB’s proposed workstreams for 2024/25, Society president Nick Emmerson said: ‘The oversight regulator has listened to our feedback and plans to have a greater focus on its core function of protecting and promoting the public interest, supporting the rule of law and maintaining the professional principles.

‘It should also focus on the performance issues of the Legal Ombudsman and increased monitoring and evaluation of the Office for Legal Complaints, to ensure they are fair, transparent and consumers and the profession have confidence in seeking redress.’

Source link




Dominic Levent Solicitors
Phone: 020 8347 6640
cash, check, credit card, invoice


1345 High Rd
London, London N20 9HR


Share this article