SRA Consultation on Regulation of CILEX Members

At the end of August 2023, the SRA opened a new consultation on the future regulation of Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) members. This follows formal talks in 2022 between the two bodies on the possibility of transferring the regulation of 20,000 CILEX members to the SRA. The ongoing consultation entitled ‘Arrangements for SRA regulation of CILEX members’ will run until November 2023 and follows a CILEX consultation launched in August on proposals to re-delegate the regulation of its members to the SRA.

Why Is CILEX Considering Transferring Member Regulation To The SRA?

According to a statement by CILEX in 2022, there are a number of reasons why it is looking to transfer the regulation of its members to the SRA, including:

  • Better regulation is needed to help build public understanding and confidence regarding the choice of legal professionals available.
  • Independent regulation must be able to operate at a sufficient scale to deliver efficient and effective regulation at a cost that is affordable for consumers and the profession.
  • CILEX believes the SRA has the “scale and reach” needed to provide effective regulation of CILEX members, given its proven record of setting standards for SRA-regulated firms.
  • 70% of CILEX practitioners already work in SRA-regulated firms, and
  • Dealing with a single regulator will make life easier for employers.

The chair of CILEX, Professor Chris Bones, stated:

“We believe that bringing the regulation of CILEX members into the SRA could give clients and others real clarity and confidence that regardless of who does the work, the outcomes will be of the same high quality.”

This is backed up by the SRA, which takes the view that the current legal sector regulatory landscape for England and Wales is too complex and fragmented. As they explain in the new consultation document, there are eight frontline regulators responsible for regulated communities ranging from more than 200,000 individuals to fewer than 700.

Furthermore, each regulator has different powers, responsibilities and ways of working, leading to overlap and duplication.

What Are The Benefits Of The SRA Taking On CILEX Regulation?

There are several key benefits of the SRA taking on CILEX member regulation according to the consultation document, including:

  • Supporting public confidence by simplifying the regulatory landscape
  • Enhancing public protection by bringing the regulation of solicitors and authorised CILEX lawyers together.
  • Improving consumer protection by replacing the limited compensation arrangements for clients of CILEX practitioners with the SRA’s Compensation Fund, and
  • Providing new opportunities to address the regulation of new and emerging forms of legal services in an integrated way across both professions.

What Does The SRA’s Consultation Document Set Out?

The consultation document sets out the SRA’s s proposed approaches to the regulation of CILEX members by changing the existing Standards, Regulations and processes to bring authorised CILEX members within the scope of SRA regulation and invites responses on the changes. Some of the SRA’s proposals for taking on CILEX member regulation include (please note this list is not exhaustive):

  • Maintaining distinct identities for authorised CILEX lawyers and solicitors
  • New ‘SRA Principles and Code of Conduct for authorised CILEX lawyers’ for individuals which will be “materially the same as the core principles in the current CILEX Code of Conduct”.
  • Authorising Chartered Legal Executives, CILEX members who have authorised additional practising rights, CILEX-ACCA Probate Practitioners and CPS Associate Prosecutors as ‘authorised CILEX lawyers’.
  • Reauthorising CILEX entities as SRA firms or as ‘authorised CILEX bodies’.
  • Making amendments to the SRA’s Authorisation of Firms Rules (AFRs) for the authorisation of entities owned and managed only by authorised CILEX lawyers as ‘authorised CILEX bodies’.
  • New draft rules for the authorisation of individual authorised CILEX lawyers, known as the ‘SRA Authorisation of CILEX Lawyers Regulations’.
  • Maintaining the current regulatory requirements for CILEX-ACCA Probate.
  • Maintaining a separate route to becoming an authorised legal professional for CILEX members in accordance with the provisions of the CILEX Charter.
  • Keeping the regulation element of the practising certificate fees for authorised CILEX lawyers in line with the present amount.
  • The costs of regulating authorised CILEX lawyers will be recovered from the practising certificate fees of CILEX members, and there will be no cross-subsidy between solicitors and CILEX lawyers.

Final words

The proposed regulatory transfer of CILEX members to the SRA makes sense in terms of consistency, efficiency, and public confidence. If you are keen to express your views on the proposed changes, you have until 22nd November to complete your submission. Regarding the next steps in the process, as Paul Philip, the Chief Executive of the SRA, explains, “If we [SRA] and CILEX agree to proceed with re-delegation after the current consultations, the Legal Services Board would need to agree to the relevant changes to both organisations’ regulatory arrangements.”

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