Don't rock the legal sector post-Brexit vote, pleads Law Society chief executive

Hayley Kirton
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Now is not the time to introduce a slew of new red tape, Dixon warned (Source: Getty)

The Law Society's chief executive has today urged policymakers not to pick away at regulation surrounding the legal sector so close to the EU referendum result.

Speaking ahead of a justice committee hearing on legal services regulation, Catherine Dixon warned that key legal changes that could be sparked by Brexit would take years to put through and vowed to work closely with solicitors, their clients, the public and government to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

"The legal sector makes a very significant contribution to the economy and we ask the government to think carefully before it embarks on changes to the regulation of the sector when the profession and its clients are dealing with the challenges triggered by the UK's decision to leave the EU," said Dixon.

"If it is decided that a review of regulation is necessary the approach must be thoughtful and holistic, not piecemeal."

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However, speaking at the committee hearing, Paul Philip, chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), pointed out that some members of the public his organisation had spoken to had seemed concerned when they realised the SRA – the regulatory body – is not entirely separate from the Law Society – the professional body.

Dixon pushed back that she thought this was more of a perception issue rather than something that needed to be dealt with in law at this present moment, adding that implementing primary legislation to address this issue would be like using "a sledge hammer to crack a nut".

Last year, the Treasury published a report which argued that the legal regulatory framework in the UK should be reviewed, in part to help increase competition in the sector.

Read more: Why lawyers need to stock up on coffee post-Brexit vote

Likewise, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is currently undertaking a market study into the legal services sector, with an interim report due next month. As part of this review, the CMA will be looking into whether consumers have enough protection should something go wrong.

The Law Society itself did not take a stance on whether the UK should continue to be a member of the EU in the run up to the referendum.

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