The LSRA – An Introduction

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority is the independent statutory body created by the Legal Services Act 2017 (“the Act”) “responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in Gibraltar and of the provision of legal services in or from within Gibraltar” (s.15(1) of the Act).

Who We Are

The LSRA Board comprises nine persons. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are appointed by the Chief Justice. The Attorney-General and the Chairman of the Law Council are ex oficio members. In addition, two persons are appointed by the Chief Justice on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission, one of them a lay person the other a lawyer, and similarly, two persons are appointed by the Chief Justice on the advice of the Chairman of the Law Council, one of them a lay person the other a lawyer. The CEO is a member of the Board, having been appointed to the post by a majority of the members, other than the Attorney-General, and after consultation with the Chairman of the Law Council. As at 1st February 2024, the composition of the Board is as follows:

Sir Peter Caruana KCMG KC

Chairman

Edgar Lavarello

Vice-Chairman

Michael Llamas CMG KC

HM Attorney-General

Kenneth Navas

Law Council Chairman

Dr Jennifer Ballantine-Perera  

lay member

Guy Stagnetto KC  

lawyer member

Emma Lejeune

lawyer member

Albert Borrell  

lay member

Francis Muscat

Chief Executive Officer

 

The CEO and LSRA Office

The Chief Executive Officer heads the administration team. He reports to the LSRA Board through the Chairman and performs the day-to-day functions of the LSRA and those functions which are functions of or assigned to the CEO.  The current CEO is Francis Muscat.

The LSRA’s offices are at Suite 841 Europort, Gibraltar, telephone number +350 22250490 and at info@lsra.gi.

What We Do

As the body “responsible for regulating the legal profession in Gibraltar and the provision of legal services in or from within Gibraltar”  the LSRA authorises, if approved, the annual registration of, and issue of practising certificate to those persons within the specified categories, to permit them to provide the relevant legal services. These Authorised Persons must apply annually to the LSRA for the renewal of registration and issue of a practising certificate, and remain under the supervision of the LSRA.

The LSRA’s general functions are set out in s 15(2) to (6) of the Act. They are:-

  • to set, promote and secure, in the public interest, standards of behaviour and professional performance to ensure that -
  • persons who are provided legal services by persons and firms providing legal services subject to regulation by the LSRA receive a good service; and
  • the constitutional principle of the rule of law is upheld; and
  • to carry out the specified regulatory functions.

One of the “regulatory functions is to promote and maintain adherence by Authorised Persons to the five statutory professional principles, which are to:

  • act with independence and integrity;
  • maintain proper standards of work;
  • act in the best interests on those being provided legal services;
  • safeguard the confidentiality of those being provided legal services;
  • maintain proper systems of control to prevent, detect and report money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as proliferation financing and compliance with targeted financial sanctions.

Our other regulatory functions are to:-

  • protect and promote the interests of consumers;
  • encourage a strong, diverse and effective legal profession;
  • regulate the provision of legal services under the Act and the Supreme Court Act;
  • administer rules in relation to practice, discipline and conduct of Authorised Persons established, made or prescribed by the Act or the Supreme Court Act;
  • administer applications for registration on the Register of Authorised Persons established by section 6(2) of the Act, and removals therefrom;
  • administer applications for and issue of practising certificates;
  • supervise the provision of legal services by Authorised Persons;
  • investigate matters relating to the provision of legal services which it considers appropriate;
  • undertake any action it considers necessary in the performance of or ancillary to its statutory functions;
  • monitor the adequacy of Authorised Persons’ systems of control to prevent, detect and report money laundering, terrorist financing, proliferation financing and compliance with TFS legislation.

We also carry out the following functions after consulting with the Law Council:

  • recommending the making of rules relating to admission of barristers and solicitors, their professional practice, conduct and discipline;
  • making recommendations to the Minister for Justice on matters relating to the provision of legal services referred to it by the Minister;
  • working to ensure co-operation with the Law Council and the efficient performance of respective duties under the Act;
  • regulating the advertising, marketing or offer of legal services to the public;
  • administering and fostering continuing professional programmes to Authorised Persons
  • prescribing the registration fees.

The LSRA therefore supervises all aspects of the delivery of legal services in or from within Gibraltar and of the persons who provide them, including law firms. This is from initial registration through to investigations and disciplinary action by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the LSRA created pursuant to s. 28 of the Act, adherence to and enforcement of any rules of conduct, in particular the Code of Conduct.

The LSRA also monitors the permitted activities of ‘exempt persons’ (as strictly defined by the Act) and investigates whether a person, not Authorised or exempt, is carrying on or purporting to carry on a legal service, which amounts to  criminal offence under the Act.

The LSRA is the Supervisory Authority appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Proceeds of Crimes Act 2015, and therefore supervises the relevant Authorised Persons (individual practitioners and law firms) who conduct the Relevant Financial Business prescribed by that Act, for compliance and enforcement in respect of money-laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing, and in respect of the Sanctions Act 2019.

Specific Roles and Tasks

In carrying out its functions, the LSRA, primarily through the CEO, administers or conducts the following tasks:

  • applications for initial and annually renewable registrations and practising certificates;
  • the collection of fees;
  • verification of the Professional Indemnity Insurance cover of Authorised Persons;
  • compliance with the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules;
  • the arrangements for screening applicants for admission and/or registration as being fit and proper persons;
  • similarly, for applications for approval of non-Authorised Persons to be directors of law firms and for permission that a non-Authorised Person hold shares in a law firm;
  • supervision of all Authorised Persons, generally, which includes investigations and onsite and offsite inspections, and issue of guidance notes
  • similar supervisory action in respect of Authorised Persons who undertake Relevant Financial Business for the purposes of the Proceeds of Crimes Act – the LSRA on becoming the statutory designated Supervisory Authority in respect of legal professionals
  • receipt and initial investigation of complaints;
  • maintaining the disciplinary procedures, rules and action;
  • intervention into solicitors’ practice;
  • the collection and assessment of reports received or information obtained, including whistle-blowing (which is securely received at report@lsra.gi);
  • liaising with law enforcement agencies and other regulatory and supervisory authorities in Gibraltar, UK and elsewhere.