Regulation of CILEX members

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have consulted on proposals to move the regulation of CILEX members to the SRA. We're concerned about the potential impact on solicitors and the public. Find out why.

What’s happening?

CILEX is the professional membership body for CILEX lawyers, paralegals and other specialist legal professionals in England and Wales.

It’s seeking to move its regulatory function from CILEx Regulation Limited (CRL) to the SRA.

CILEX lawyers can be authorised to practise in specific areas of law, but they are not authorised in all areas as solicitors are upon qualification.

The SRA currently regulates all solicitors and most law firms in England and Wales.

CILEX and the SRA have been discussing this possibility since July 2022.

Following a Legal Services Board (LSB) intervention to resolve disputes between CILEX and CRL, CRL consulted on the issues.

CILEX has since begun consulting on proposals to change its regulator and the SRA is consulting on proposals for regulating chartered legal executives.

What we’re doing

As the professional body for solicitors, we amplify the powerful collective voice of more than 200,000 solicitors, advocating on the issues you’ve told us matter most.

We've responded to the SRA and CILEX consultations, following consultation with members to produce as informed a response as possible.

We’ve identified a number of serious concerns with the proposals.

Our concerns

1. Conflict with the core regulatory objective

The proposal conflicts with the core regulatory objective of protecting the interests of consumers.

There is no evidence the proposals would support building a more diverse legal profession, increase access to justice, or expand consumer choice and competition.

2. Lack of evidence

The CILEX consultation lacks both evidence and an impact assessment while making points that do not, on analysis, support the proposal.

3. Lack of support

The proposals are not supported by CILEX’s own membership.

4. Out of remit

The SRA is being asked to act outside its corporate objectives and regulatory remit as the regulatory body for solicitors, under delegation from the Law Society as approved regulator under the Legal Services Act and the sole member of SRA Limited.

5. Creates a false equivalence

The proposal detracts from the principle of profession-led regulation introduced by the statutory framework in the Legal Services Act.

It suggests a false equivalence between two distinct groups of professionals, creating confusion for the consumer.

CILEX consultation: our response

CILEX’s consultation focused on what it sees as the benefits to its members in being regulated by the SRA, such as:

  • what it views to be a clarification of CILEX lawyers’ status in relation to solicitors and other authorised individuals
  • improved access for CILEX members to lender panels, banks, approved provider lists and insurance cover

The consultation revealed a proposal to introduce a new ‘chartered lawyer’ title to replace the current title of ‘chartered legal executive’.

CILEX believes these changes will increase the status and recognition of CILEX lawyers and increase public confidence and consumer choice.

We believe there are serious issues with the proposals.

"The proposals are unsupported by evidence that they will benefit the public,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson.

“They do not consider the wider regulatory context or the serious negative impact these changes will have on solicitors and chartered legal executives.”

Read our response to CILEX's consultation

SRA consultation: our responses

The SRA has consulted on proposed changes to the SRA Standards and Regulations, including:

  • a new code of conduct for ‘authorised CILEX lawyers’ (chartered legal executives and CILEX practitioners)
  • new education and authorisation rules for CILEX members
  • how it would use existing and new investigation and enforcement powers
  • consequential changes to the SRA’s rules and regulations

The SRA has stressed that the proposed model is for each profession to be regulated and funded separately.

However, the SRA notes there will be some shared resources, such as investigation and enforcement teams, and governance arrangements (with both professions overseen by the SRA Board).

We believe the proposals could risk consumer confusion and lead to a loss of confidence in the SRA’s regulatory capacity.

Nick said: “We are concerned about the risk to the reputation of the SRA and a loss of confidence in its regulatory capacity, due to a real or perceived lack of partiality towards the inevitable competition between the professions represented by the Law Society and CILEx.

“The consultation also does not consider how the proposals may adversely affect the SRA’s ongoing duty to regulate the solicitor profession in a way that supports and promotes the regulatory objectives."

Read our response to the SRA consultation

The SRA has further consulted on arrangements for regulating non-authorised CILEX members.

There is significant overlap between this consultation and the earlier consultations.

“It is not necessary to have non-authorised CILEX members regulated, as CILEX can deal with them as a membership issue,” said Law Society chief executive Ian Jeffery.

“There is also no case presented in the consultation as to why individual regulation of non-authorised members is required in the way the SRA is proposing.

“The SRA should withdraw these and the previous CILEX proposals and instead concentrate on its core regulatory responsibilities.”

Read our response to the SRA consultation on non-authorised CILEX members

Next steps

The CILEX consultation closed on 5 November 2023.

Read the full CILEX consultation

The SRA's consultation on arrangements for authorised CILEX members closed on 22 November 2023.

Read the SRA's first consultation

The SRA's consultation on arrangements for non-authorised CILEX members closed on 15 May 2024.

Read the SRA's second consultation

We will continue working with members to inform our approach.

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