LLG has drawn up, in consultation with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, a memorandum on exemption for authorisation under section 15 of the Legal Services Act 2007.
The work was facilitated by Quentin Baker, LLG President, and Abdus Choudhury, Deputy Director, Legal and Governance at One Source. The memorandum can be viewed here.
Writing on the LLG blog, Helen McGrath said authorisation under section 15 had, “for the last 14 years, presented somewhat of a challenging position for legal departments seeking to collaborate in a positive way. There has historically been a varied understanding and indeed approach by authorities, with uncertainty clouding objectives.
“Local authorities regularly collaborate and trade services with each other and with other closely linked organisations across the public and not for profit sector. There are many examples of local authority legal teams undertaking legal work for other organisations via collaborative or traded arrangements and given the nature of such arrangements and the public benefit derived from them it is sensible to facilitate these with a proportionate level of regulation without the need for full authorisation.”
McGrath said the SRA had acknowledged that there may well be situations where local authority legal teams fell within the definition of a not-for-profit body as set out in section 207 of the Legal Services Act 2007.
“Further, The SRA has indicated that the term 'connected' organisation may be interpreted broadly and geographical proximity will not be determinative,” she added.
McGrath said publication of the memorandum would provide clarification of “what is provided for in legislation, is reflective of what is occurring within the sector and importantly, helps to ensure value with public money”.
LLG has suggested that local authority legal teams wishing to undertake work for other organisations may wish to get in touch with the SRA to discuss their plans and consult on whether they need to be authorised to undertake that work. “Feedback from members who have recently undertaken this has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive.”
McGrath added: “Grateful thanks to both Quentin and Abdus for driving this forward and committing their time to a such an important issue and welcomed outcome.”