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Draft Legal Services Bill - "Tyranny of the Consumer"

One of the committees that I am on is the Joint Committee to consider the Draft Legal Services Bill.

This bill creates a legal services board which has the power to stop barristers and solicitors working on behalf of their clients. The members of the LSB are appointed by the Secretary of State.

The minister responsible is Bridget Prentice who said: "If it is the tyranny of the consumer, I would have some sympathy with that."

This potential tyranny of the consumer is of course ensured by the actions of the Secretary of State.

The key debate around the bill is whether it is more important that the members of the Legal Services Board are "independent of government" or "independent of the legal profession."

The UK constitution and many others operate on the basis of a separation of powers. It is important that the process of interpreting law is independent of government. That is key for avoiding a corrupt tyrannical society. Ideally justice needs to be done and be seen to be done (which is why one of the Court of Appeal judgements in respect of secrecy recently is so important).

Typical muddy thinking from the government is challenging this on most fronts although Harriet Harman's working on the family courts deserve widespread support.

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