Legal profession at loggerheads over CILEX regulation

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By Rhys Duncan on


SRA v Law Society

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has taken a step towards regulating CILEX lawyers in spite of the Law Society’s continued objection to the plans.

The SRA began discussions with CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) in 2022 about a change to the regulatory structure of the two professions.

The solicitor’s regulator has said that there would be public interest benefits to it regulating all CILEX members, namely that the regulatory landscape would be less complex and easier for consumers to navigate, and that it would allow for more consistent standards and levels of protection.

There has been significant opposition to these proposals, however, with the Law Society amongst the most vocal opponents.

Despite what the regulator describes as “mixed” views among the profession, the SRA board has now agreed that it would regulate CILEX members, if CILEX decides to re-delegate this task.

The regulator would, it says, “make sure the costs of regulating CILEX members would be fully recovered from their practising certificate fees”, whilst ensuring that “the distinct identities of CILEX members and solicitors” are maintained.

A CILEX lawyer is a legal professional who has qualified through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. CILEX members typically start with a level three diploma in law and practice, equivalent to A-levels, followed by a level six diploma, equivalent to an undergraduate degree.

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Anna Bradley, SRA chair, commented:

“We have reflected long and hard on the potential risks and benefits. In making this decision we are conscious of the strong professional interests that are in play, but the key question for us has always been — is this in the public interest? All the evidence shows that consistency and relative simplicity in regulation matters to the users of legal service. This change would result in a simpler system, with more consistent levels of protection for consumers. There will also be efficiency benefits.”

“Most people find the current regulatory landscape bamboozling. This change won’t solve all the issues of complexity, but it would benefit the public,” she continued.

The Law Society hasn’t let up its opposition, however. Its statement on the development notes the “serious concerns from solicitors, CILEX members and consumer representatives” about a move that would “irreparably change the legal regulatory landscape”.

Ian Jeffery, chief executive officer of the Law Society, also commented that the body is “deeply concerned that the SRA Board has given the go ahead to regulating CILEX members, despite its own regulated community, and CILEX’s members objecting to the idea of regulatory change, and the Legal Services Consumer Panel stating that the consumer case has not been made”.

“We are concerned that the redelegation of CILEX’s regulatory functions to the SRA could adversely affect the SRA’s ability to meet its duty to regulate the solicitor profession in a way that supports and promotes the regulatory objectives,” Jeffery continued. “This is of particular concern in light of the collapses of Axiom Ince, Metamorph, Kingly and the SSB Group.”

The existing CILEX regulator, CILEx Regulation, has gone public with its concern over the plans, stating that it is “considering next steps including recourse to the courts”.

Another potential hurdle, or brick wall, faced by the SRA is that its proposals, even if agreed by CILEX, would need approval from the Law Society. The Society’s consent for the changes “cannot be assumed” it has said, although the matter would ultimately be left to the Law Society’s Council to decide.

1 Comment

Law Man

Law is a second career after policing. I do not have much faith in the SRA who appear to waste members money.

I hope the Law Society takes legal action. The rationale by the SRA if accepted would suggest the BSB/Bar Council are redundant.

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