I am delighted to have been appointed the new Chair of CILEx Regulation in succession to Sam Younger. I take over at an exciting time as we implement a new three-year strategy which champions fair access for all in legal services, and upholds standards while minimising the burden of regulation on those practising.
Let me begin by introducing myself. I was for many years a senior civil servant in Whitehall and Brussels, working closely with several prime ministers, and focusing on promoting the consumer interest, ensuring effective regulation – for instance in the Health and Safety Executive; and championing equality, diversity and inclusion – for example, leading the department which produced the 2010 Equality Act.
Over the last few years, I have maintained my interest in consumer issues and regulation as a non-executive director. I currently chair the main Funeral Directors Trade Association, sit as a lay director on the Chartered Professional Body for financial advisers, chair the Standards Committee for Architects overseeing professional and educational qualifications and discipline, and am on the Board of the Ombudsman handling students’ complaints.
I hope I have a good understanding of both what professionals like you want from a regulator, and how important it is for regulators to focus on promoting the public interest and preserving independence while being sensitive to the needs of those we regulate.
So, what’s in my in-tray as I take over on September 1?
Making a success of the new education standards championed in partnership with CILEX will be a priority, especially bedding in the new competencies on making best use of technology, and emotional competence. We will also want to work with the Legal Services Board and others to develop an enhanced approach to individual supervision to ensure the ongoing competence of those we regulate.
Equality and Diversity
We have a good story to tell, but there is clearly more we can and must do to champion the ability of aspiring lawyers to thrive in the profession whatever their background. And we must ensure that consumers from diverse backgrounds also get a fair deal. Working with others, we will be developing a new strategy and reporting on progress regularly.
Promoting Consumers Interests
We need to continue to improve the information available to consumers so they can make informed decisions, and look to ensure a level playing field on issues like redress between those legal activities that are reserved and those not regulated.
One of the successes of the last few years is expanding our reach to regulate firms as well as individuals. But we are now at a turning point and we need to look at how we regulate to see if there are better and simpler ways to increase access and develop value for both firms and their consumers.
So it’s a big agenda which we will not achieve in isolation. We will want to work in partnership with CILEX, fellow regulators, consumer groups and many others. Above all I want to engage you, the regulated community, so we understand your aspirations and concerns and can provide a good service to you, helping you to do your jobs better.