The Law Society, in principle, supported the Legal Services Board's (LSB) decision to regulate Will writing and estate administration as it would bring greater protection to customers, it said recently in response to the LSB consultation.
The LSB has provided solid evidence that many consumers are not adequately protected when a Will is prepared or an estate is managed and regulating those activities is the right way to tackle this, the Society said.
The Law Society agreed that new reserved activities should capture Will writing, estate administration and auxiliary legal services, and also called on the LSB to include administration, powers of attorney and the formation of trusts into reserved work.
This is particularly important because when an activity becomes regulated, there is an incentive for referral fees to be used to provide regulated providers with work captured by unregulated ones and for unregulated providers to perform and charge for unreserved activities done in relation to a Will, the Law Society said, giving an example with the current referral fees culture that dominates personal injury work. The Society believes the scope for such activity should be limited as far as possible through a wide definition of reserved activities.
The Law Society also expressed its view that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) should be made an approved regulator for Will writing and estate administration activities. Under the current plan, existing and new regulators will have to apply for specific designation to regulate Will writing and estate administration, which could delay the launch of regulation scheduled for 2015.
The Society expressed concern at the prospect of multiple regulators of Will writing and estate administration and stressed that without a consistent approach to regulation and uniform standards, "there is a real danger that Will writers will flock to the regulator whose arrangements are cheapest and least onerous."