Are They off Their Trolleys? the Government Thinks We Would like to Buy Legal Services at the Supermarket along with Our Weekly Groceries, and Has Initiated a Review That May Lead the Way to Such a Radical Change. There May Be Trouble Ahead. Bob Sherwood Explains

By Sherwood, Bob | New Statesman (1996), February 16, 2004 | Go to article overview

Are They off Their Trolleys? the Government Thinks We Would like to Buy Legal Services at the Supermarket along with Our Weekly Groceries, and Has Initiated a Review That May Lead the Way to Such a Radical Change. There May Be Trouble Ahead. Bob Sherwood Explains


Sherwood, Bob, New Statesman (1996)


You pick up your weekly groceries at a sprawling, out-of-town supermarket. You probably collect medicines there, too, and maybe even have a credit card or bank account with the same company. But would you trust it to help you buy a house? Or handle your divorce?

The government thinks you--or at least an important section of the population--would, given the chance. In the parlance of Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the reforming Lord Chancellor, that concept has become known as "Tesco law". But to enable it to happen requires a radical overhaul of the regulations governing the way lawyers practise. That is why Falconer has commissioned such a heavy hitter as Sir David Clementi, formerly deputy governor of the Bank of England and now chairman of the insurer Prudential, to spend this year reviewing the centuries-old way that solicitors and barristers conduct their business. It will not be uncontroversial.

While there has hardly been a public clamour for an overhaul of the way lawyers provide their services, one of the principal drivers for such fundamental change is the government's oft-repeated mantra of improving access to justice. It fears that the stuffy, formal manner that comes naturally to many solicitors, who are not renowned for plain speaking, intimidates many people and prevents them from ever seeking legal help for family or domestic issues. As Falconer said recently: "If, for example, we have Tesco law, will we discover that more people have a personal injuries claim? That more people are victims of domestic violence? And if we do, what does that tell us about the current market for legal services? Why are these people not going to solicitors at the moment?"

The flip side of that is ensuring legal practitioners can command the sort of trust that will enable wary members of the public to place the most distressing problems in their hands. That means regulation with teeth--something the solicitors' profession has notably lacked in recent years. The dismal record of the Law Society, the body that represents 90,000 solicitors in England and Wales, in handling complaints against high street practitioners has long been a source of embarrassment. Audits of the self-regulation system have damned the effectiveness of the society's procedures, and it appears that the government might finally have lost patience.

Last year, Falconer created a legal services complaints commissioner to oversee the Law Society's complaints arm--much to its disgust. In her most recent report, Zahida Manzoor, who is both the new complaints commissioner and the legal services ombudsman, said the backlog of complaints against solicitors had almost doubled in less than two years. However, the Law Society is pouring [pounds sterling]21m over three years into its complaints arm, and there does appear to be an improvement in the number of cases being closed under the guiding hand of Janet Paraskeva, the society's chief executive. She wants more time for the results of the work on complaints to become clear before any drastic changes are imposed. But it may be too little, too late.

It is certainly difficult to argue that Britain's legal services, one of the most important facets of our democratic society, do not need clearer regulation. At the moment, there is a confusing maze of 22 different legal regulatory bodies, a system that even most lawyers do not really understand. Clementi will consider--and quite possibly recommend--stripping the Law Society and the Bar Council (its counterpart body for barristers) of their self-regulatory functions to make way for an overarching regulator along the lines of the Financial Services Authority. Not surprisingly, both organisations bridle at the suggestion--though even that threat has not brought the two bodies, never particularly friendly, closer together.

Stephen Irwin QC, the chairman of the Bar, recently raised the hackles of Paraskeva by suggesting that Clementi could propose revamping regulation for solicitors but leave barristers to be overseen by the Bar Council, whose system has managed to avoid condemnation from the ombudsman. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Are They off Their Trolleys? the Government Thinks We Would like to Buy Legal Services at the Supermarket along with Our Weekly Groceries, and Has Initiated a Review That May Lead the Way to Such a Radical Change. There May Be Trouble Ahead. Bob Sherwood Explains
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.