Regulation of CILEX members
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.
CILEX’s consultation focuses 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 layers’ 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 reveals 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.”
The SRA is consulting 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."
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're responding to both consultations and are consulting with members to produce as informed a response as possible.
At this stage, we’ve identified a number of serious concerns with the proposals.
Below is a summary of the concerns we’ve identified to date.
We will continue to test and develop these as we speak with members and our governance bodies.
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 objects 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.
The CILEX consultation closed on 5 November 2023.
The SRA consultation closed on 22 November 2023.
We will continue consult with members to inform our approach.
I want to know more
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