Legal expert warns against extending list of reserved activities

26 August 2010

Leading academic lawyer Stephen Mayson has advised the England and Wales Legal Services Board against expanding the list of reserved legal activities.

The finding is topical because the LSB is currently considering adding will-writing to the list of reserved activities – i.e. services that can only be provided for reward by persons with appropriate legal qualifications.

Professor Mayson’s analysis appears in a new strategic discussion paper published by the College of Law’s Legal Services Policy Institute, of which he is director.

In “Reserved legal activities: history and rationale” he investigates how the six existing reserved activities (which include applying for probate) came to be enshrined in statute under section 12(1) of the Legal Services Act 2007.

He concluded that there appeared to be no consistent rationale for reserving legal activities; it has simply been done ad hoc, often just by confirming the then-current practice, or through political influence, and then justified after the event.

“Further, in the few Hansard debates that do exist regarding the reserved activities, protectionist influences are also often evident”, says Mayson,

Pointing out that reserving an activity to one profession has costs and disadvantages as well as benefits to be taken into account, Mayson concludes that it would be “illogical” for the LSB to add more activities to the list at the moment.

First, he says, it should try to identify sensible and consistent criteria for reserving activities, based on valid policy reasons.


Legal Services Policy Institute (483k PDF file, may not display in some versions of Acrobat)

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