Its proposal is to amend the internal governance rules to require that the chairs of the boards of the regulatory arms of each approved regulator be a lay person.
Announcing the consultation, Chairman of the LSB, David Edmonds, cautioned that “overly strong ties to the history, culture and rules of professional self-regulation may well have a negative impact on modernisation and independence”.
“Chairs of Boards not in any way tied to the profession is in line with good practice – the 2007 Act stipulates that my post must be held by a lay person – and is a logical next step in internal governance,” he advised. “This proposal is not intended as a criticism of any current or past Chair,” he added.
Responding to news of the consultation, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) said that it “has had a lay majority since January 2012” and “is committed to keeping this”. The spokesperson said that the BSB “currently appoints its Chair on merit, without reference to the need to hold or not to hold a legal qualification,” and added: “we will, as usual, engage constructively with the LSB consultation.”
The BSB Chair, Baroness Deech, comes to the end of her maximum two terms of office at the end of 2014, and applications for a new Chair will open in spring next year.
LSB Chair David Edmonds’ own tenure ends in April 2014, and applications for the £63,000 a year post (for a minimum of 70 days per year) close on 8 November. The Lord Chancellor is looking for “a lay Chair who is passionate about creating an environment in which regulation is as light touch as possible”, “innovative, persuasive”, with “the ability to challenge existing assumptions” and “the commitment and skills to turn those ideas into successful change”.
The consultation closes on 19 November