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Access to Justice Act 1999


The Legal Services Consultative Panel

157.Section 35: Replacement of ACLEC by Consultative Panel. This section abolishes the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct, and replaces it with a new Legal Services Consultative Panel.

158.The Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee (ACLEC) was created by section 19 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. ACLEC’s replacement, the Legal Services Consultative Panel will differ from ACLEC in a number of ways but will continue to fulfil much of ACLEC’s role. The Act makes no provision for the number of the Panel’s membership, which will be appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor will be required to have regard to criteria setting out appropriate knowledge and experience among the Panel’s membership (specified in new section 18A(2) of the 1990 Act as inserted by this section).

159.The Panel’s general duty will be to provide the Lord Chancellor with any advice he requires about legal services, legal education and related matters. It will have an active role in assisting in the maintenance and development of standards in the education, training and conduct of persons offering legal services. The Panel will be required to draw up its own programme of work on these topics, to be agreed with the Lord Chancellor, and will be able to make recommendations on particular issues when appropriate. The Panel will also carry out a significant role in the system of statutory approvals set out in Schedule 5 (see below), which inserts a new Schedule 4 into the 1990 Act.

160.This section also provides that the Panel cannot be sued for defamation in respect of any advice it publishes. This is to ensure that the Panel is able to give frank advice to the Lord Chancellor, and that it need not hesitate to point out, for example, if a body applying for authorised status under the 1990 Act is corrupt or incompetently run, and therefore unsuitable to be designated an authorised body.

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