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Supermarket Law

In 2002 :

The Law Society’s ruling council has blocked proposals to allow companies to offer legal services to the public for the second time this year in a move that has confounded supporters of so-called ‘supermarket law’.

At a council meeting yesterday (5 December), 42 council members voted in favour of retaining the ban — with 35 backing reform.

The vote is a blow to companies which want to employ solicitors to offer legal services to the public.

It is also a setback for Chancery Lane’s leadership, which is in favour of deregulation.

"It is clear that the leadership is not able to carry this council with it on this issue," said one Law Society source.

This is the second time the Law Society’s council has blocked reform.

In March it voted in principle to allow employed solicitors to offer their services to the public, but against the relaxation of referral and fee sharing rules, making a so-called "supermarket law" service impossible in practice.


A spokesman said: "We are very disappointed that for the second time the council has voted against these sensible proposals. Everybody with an interest in providing legal services to the public will have to consider what actions to take."

Last week, the Commerce and Industry Group, which represents in-house lawyers, called for the ban on employed lawyers from advising the public to be lifted.

In United Kingdom (2003)

The Law Society has backed down from its vow to conduct spot checks on all firms.

Its plan for random inspections, reported in OSS Toughens Up, would have seen the Practice Standards Unit assessing all firms every three to four years. Now checks will be confined to firms that are the subject of regular complaints.

Meanwhile, the society's ruling council has voted in principle to lift the ban on fee-sharing between lawyers and non-lawyers.

The move represents a major u-turn for the ruling council, which has proved reluctant to allow companies such as Tesco and the RAC to provide legal advice to their clients (the so-called 'supermarket law' option).

At the meeting a majority of council members agreed that a total ban on fee-sharing was "unjustifiable in regulatory terms".

The society's regulation review working party is to prepare a firm set of proposals that will come before the council for approval either in May or July.


S.N.I.W, Parc d'Innovation de la Haute Borne - Cité Scientifique - 4 rue Archimède - 59650 Villeneuve d'Ascq, France - Tel: - Fax: - E-mail: sniw@nordnet.fr

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