New Council members
Natalie Swales, a partner at Masters Legal Costs in London, and Derek Boyd (pictured), a Senior Costs Lawyer at City firm Ince, have won the election to fill the two vacancies on the ACL Council.
Full profiles will appear in the next issue of Costs Lawyer. Ms Swales said: “I am thrilled to have been elected to the ACL Council and would like to thank those who voted for me. I’ll aim to confirm my peers’ confidence in me by helping to further the influence of our profession, and bring a new voice to the Council – I’m very much looking forward to starting my new role.”
Mr Boyd said: “I am delighted and chuffed to bits to have been selected for the ACL Council, especially from a list containing such excellent alternative candidates.
“I will do my very best to meet the expectations of those who have kindly put their faith in me and I look forward to working with Claire [Green] as part of her team in representing our members and our profession in every best possible way.”
Members should have received an email this week that another vacancy on Council has opened up and it is seeking nominations to fill it.
ACL to face new internal governance rules
Updated rules to govern the relationship between regulation and representative functions inside bodies which have responsibility for both – such as the ACL – have been published by the Legal Services Board (LSB).
The aim of the revised internal governance rules (IGR) is to ensure that the regulatory arms, such as the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB), have the maximum amount of independence allowed under the Legal Services Act 2007.
Issuing the revised IGR after a process that began in November 2017 and involved three consultations, the LSB confirmed that it had ditched rules it proposed last year that would not allow representative bodies to try and “influence” their regulatory arms.
After strong opposition from the ACL and others, such as the Law Society – on the basis that this would prevent them from either lobbying or criticising their regulatory arms – the rules now only prevent them from taking actions that would “prejudice” regulatory activity.
The majority of respondents to the consultation on the issue earlier this year welcomed the change, apart from one which considered it to be a “weakening of the rule”.
The LSB said the new IGR “provide more clarity which should lead to fewer independence-related disputes and are more readily enforceable for speedier resolution of issues”.
Legal regulators now have a year in which to comply with the new rules – after many, including the ACL, warned that six months would not be enough. The new IGR also allow them to apply for permission not to comply with particular rules on a temporary or longer term basis, “where they can build a compelling case that compliance would, for example, be disproportionate”.
The consultation response published by the oversight regulator yesterday said the ACL and CLSB were among six respondents who broadly agreed that the IGR could be implemented and complied with without any additional cost.
LSB chief executive Neil Buckley said: “Independent regulation gives confidence to consumers, providers, investors and society as a whole that legal services work in the public interest and support the rule of law.
“Regulatory independence also gives the providers of legal services the certainty they need to grow and innovate. The final IGR reflect our commitment to setting a new framework which delivers the highest level of regulatory independence within the current legislative framework.”
Updated criminal legal aid guidance
The Legal Aid Agency has published updated guidance on the assessment of bills in criminal matters and cases (other than in the Crown Court) governed by the 2017 Standard Crime Contract (SCC), dealing specifically with changes to the Parole Board reconsideration mechanism.