The Law Society of England and Wales submitted its response to the Commission’s consultation on the regulation of professions.
The response included the comments on the UK National Action Plan (NAP) and on the proposed methodology to assess proportionality of regulation.
In its comments on the UK NAP, the Law Society of England and Wales stressed the need to have a proper evidential basis for any regulatory change and the need to strike a balance between fair competition and protecting the consumer and the public interest. Any changes to the regulation of the legal profession should be considered in the broader context, taking into account their economic effects, impact on consumers and their contribution to advancing the public interest. The latter is especially important in the case of legal services as some of them are crucial to ensure the effective operation of the courts and the lawful settlement of disputes (such as litigation and advocacy services), which are the foundation of the rule of law in England and Wales. The Law Society of England and Wales referred to its ongoing work on the regulation of legal services in the context of the Competition and Markets Authority study.
Concerning the methodology for assessing proportionality, the Law Society of England and Wales supported its development but stressed that it is a complex task, given the diversity of national regulatory regimes in the EU. Assessing the necessity of regulation is already a requirement in many jurisdictions but there exists no common methodology for such an exercise at EU level.
The consultation comes after the Commission published the Member States’ NAPs in which they assess their national restrictions applying to regulated professions. The NAPs are a result of a two-year mutual evaluation of regulated professions exercise, which is carried out under Article 59 of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) . The legal profession was one of the professions examined during the exercise. The results of the consultation will feed into:
- the Commission’s report to the European Parliament and Council (to be submitted by January 2017);
- a country- and profession-specific guidance to Member States; and
- an analytical framework on proportionality assessments.