CILEX proposals are seriously misguided and fail to consider the wider regulatory context

The Law Society of England and Wales has expressed concern over the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX’s) proposals for changes to the regulation of chartered legal executives.

CILEX is pushing for authorised legal executives to be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), despite its own members objecting to the idea of regulatory change.

The Law Society’s key concerns are:

  • the proposals do not consider the impact on the regulatory objectives or the potentially serious negative impact these changes will have on the regulated communities
  • the proposals will cause consumer confusion, as it will be less clear which profession is which, and where different authorisations for practice areas apply
  • chartered legal executives being rebranded as ‘SRA-chartered lawyers’ is seriously misguided and appears to be a desire to raise the status of CILEX lawyers. It also causes conflict under the Welsh Language Act, as there is no separate word for ‘solicitor’ in Welsh compared to ‘lawyer’
  • the regulation of chartered legal executives is best managed under the current bespoke arrangements with CILEx Regulation, and to move only some of CILEX’s members to the SRA creates regulatory fragmentation

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “There are serious issues with the proposals, which are unsupported by evidence that they will benefit the public and do not consider the wider regulatory context or the serious negative impact these changes will have on solicitors and chartered legal executives.

“CILEX’s key driver appears to be raising the status of CILEX lawyers to be on the same plane as solicitors or barristers – the two most comprehensively qualified legal professions.

“This is not something that can be achieved by sharing the same regulator with the solicitor profession, or by rebranding as chartered lawyers.

“Both professions are valuable within the wider landscape of legal services provision. But they are not equivalent in education and training or scope of authorisation of practice.”

A YouGov poll carried out for the Law Society found that roughly a quarter (24%) of consumers thought the term ‘chartered lawyer’ would be unhelpful in understanding what services any one type of professional can offer.

Consumers associated solicitors (76%) barristers (61%) and attorney (59%) with the term ‘lawyer’. In comparison, only one in 10 (12%) associated legal executives/CILEX legal professionals with the term ‘lawyer’.*

On the need for clarity for consumers Nick Emmerson said: “Consumers often use legal services at a time of great stress – such as managing the estate of a loved one, getting divorced or moving home.

“The proposals would negatively impact on consumers’ ability to clearly understand and distinguish the choices available to them."

On regulatory fragmentation, Nick Emmerson said: “The proposals will move the regulation of only part of the CILEX membership to the SRA, thereby creating regulatory fragmentation, not consolidation.

“If the proposals are implemented, CILEX would be left overseeing 9,000 non-authorised individuals – previously under the oversight of CILEx Regulation – in a backward step for independent regulation and oversight.”

Nick Emmerson concluded: “The regulation of authorised chartered legal executives is best managed under the current bespoke arrangements with CILEx Regulation which the majority of CILEX members’ support.

“CILEx Regulation is vehemently opposing the changes and CILEX has failed to demonstrate the necessity for redelegating its regulatory functions to the SRA.”

Notes to editors

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,236 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 and 12 October 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Read CILEX’s consultation in full

Read the Law Society’s consultation response in full

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Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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