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The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, today announced the appointment of David Edmonds OBE as the first chair of the Legal Services Board.
David Edmonds has extensive experience of leading senior management teams in commercial and public sector organisations. After a career in the senior civil service and as Chief Executive of the Housing Corporation, he spent seven years as a Managing Director within the NatWest Group. His regulatory experience includes five years as Director General of Telecommunications and two years as a founding member of the Board of Ofcom. He is currently the Chair of the Board of NHS Direct and he has served for four years as a Commissioner at the Legal Services Commission. He will leave both those posts in the next few months.
Jack Straw said: "As the first Chair, Mr Edmonds will take the lead in setting the strategic direction of the Board to ensure that these aims are met."
The Legal Services Act 2007 set the stage for wide-ranging reforms to the provision and regulation of legal services in England and Wales. The Act establishes the Legal Services Board (LSB), which will be a single independent oversight regulator that will replace the current oversight regulators. The Act establishes the Office for Legal Complaints, which will administer an ombudsman scheme that will deal with all consumer complaints about legal services. The Act also enables the creation of alternative business structures between lawyers and non-lawyers.
The LSB will be independent from government and the legal profession. It will be a public body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. The Chair and other board members will be responsible for the design and outlook of the organisation, for establishing the new regulatory framework and for providing oversight of approved regulators and licensing authorities. The LSB will become fully operational by early 2010.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) welcomed the appointment. Commenting, Ruth Evans, BSB Chair said: "The BSB looks forward to working constructively with Mr Edmonds and the Legal Services Board in implementing the new regulatory framework for legal services, and ensuring that the new arrangements deliver a dynamic and invigorated legal services market for consumers and the profession alike."
Mr Edmonds will formally take up post on 1 May 2008. The term of appointment is until May 2011.