Radical reforms to modernise the legal profession and make obtaining legal advice a lot easier were outlined by the Lord Chancellor yesterday.
The Government published details of plans for England and Wales to allow outside companies to own law firms. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC, indicated that companies would be allowed to invest in law firms, with 100 per cent ownership — a proposal under which law firms could be floated on the stock market.
The White Paper published yesterday will also change how complaints by clients against lawyers are handled. A single office for legal complaints will investigate complaints against both barristers and solicitors, with powers to fine them up to £20,000. The average award for complaints in 2004-05 was less than £500.
Lord Falconer said: “People can be confident where they do have a complaint against a lawyer then it will be looked at independently and not by other lawyers. We hope that over time it will change the ethos of the way lawyers operate.”