HL Deb 24 October 1990 vol 522 cc1436-7

117 After Clause 54, insert the following clause:—

Preparation of documents etc. by registered patent agents and trade mark agents

'.—(1) Section 22 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (unqualified person not to prepare certain instruments) shall be amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2) (persons exempt from subsection (I)), the following paragraphs shall be inserted after paragraph (a)—

(3) The following subsection shall be inserted after subsection (3)—

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 117. In doing so I speak also to Amendments Nos. 120, 126, 127, 129 to 137, 139, 238A, 239 to 245, 278 and 281. These amendments are designed to deal with the problem of the admission of various people to the possibility of work in the area of legal practice.

When the Bill was previously before this House, I said that a number of amendments to the Solicitors Act 1974 were to be considered, beyond those which were to be found in Part IV of the Bill at that time. Practice with, and admission of, foreign lawyers, and new powers to deal with complaints of poor work, are dealt with in other groups of amendments to this part of the Bill. These remaining provisions, which have been arrived at following consultation with the Law Society and with my noble and learned friend the Master of the Rolls, are designed to improve and bring up to date the regulation of various aspects of the solicitors' profession, and to facilitate changes in the range of work which certain classes of persons are permitted to undertake. I do not propose to dwell upon this at length.

First, a greater degree of flexibility is to be introduced into the way in which the Law Society carries out certain of its functions, by providing greater powers of delegation among its committees and sub-committees. That is at the request of the Law Society to make it somewhat more flexible. Secondly, the powers and functions of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal are clarified and brought up to date. Thirdly, provision is made for solicitors to be charged reduced or, if appropriate, increased fees on the issue of a practising certificate where this is considered justified.

Fourthly, the Solicitors Act 1974 is to be altered to allow registered trade mark agents and registered patent agents to draw up certain documents which they were previously unqualified to prepare, relaxing the existing monopoly in these areas. This amendment has the approval of the vice-chancellor. There are also a number of minor amendments consequential on these, or on material concerning the Solicitors Act 1974 and the regulation of the profession which are already in the Bill.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 117.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.