What’s happened elsewhere when public confidence erodes

flags of England and Wales     

In England, lawyers lost the right to self-regulate following a series of poor, highly public decisions made by self-regulating bodies of the legal profession. Those decisions prompted criticism from the Office of Fair Trading, followed by a government-commissioned report that ultimately led to the creation of the Legal Services Act 2007. Now lawyers in England and Wales are regulated through the government-appointed Legal Services Commission that was created under the Act. 

flag of Ireland  

This October the Legal Services Regulation Bill was published by the Minister for Justice in Ireland. It proposes the establishment of a legal services regulatory authority, appointed by the government. This authority will have wide powers, including the drawing up and approval of rules of professional conduct. The new regulatory authority would report to the Minister for Justice, effectively ending self-regulation and removing the buffer that exists between the executive branch of government and the legal profession. 

flag of Australia  

In Australia, several states have legal services commissions appointed by government to regulate lawyers. In Queensland, in particular, the loss of self-regulation happened quickly after intense media criticism of how the self-regulating body handled complaints against a prominent law firm. The federal government is now working on the creation of a government-appointed National Legal Service Board, which will take over responsibility for regulating the profession. 

[Back to contents]