What Chartered Legal Executive Lawyers Do

A Chartered Legal Executive lawyer specialises in a particular area of law, and has trained to the same standard as a solicitor in that area.

Not all lawyers are solicitors or barristers. Under the Legal Services Act 2007 (the 2007 Act) Chartered Legal Executive lawyers are ‘authorised persons’ undertaking ‘reserved legal activities’ alongside, for example, solicitors and barristers.

Fully qualified and experienced Chartered Legal Executive lawyers are able to undertake many of the legal activities that solicitors do. For example, they will have their own clients (with full conduct of cases) and they can undertake representation in court where appropriate.

Chartered Legal Executive lawyers must adhere to a code of conduct and, like solicitors, are required to continue training throughout their careers in order to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in the law.

The role of a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer

The work of a Chartered Legal Executive is almost indistinguishable from the work of a solicitor.

As a general rule, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer is able to undertake all the same work that may be undertaken by a solicitor, with some conditions.

  • If the area of practice is regulated, then they must satisfy the requirements of the relevant regulator.
  • If the activity is 'reserved' under the 2007 Act, then they should generally be supervised by an 'authorised person' (as defined under the Act, often a solicitor), or satisfy one of the other exemptions.

Currently, Chartered Legal Executives are able to independently administer oaths, but are not able to independently offer other reserved legal activities. 

Under the 2007 Act, Chartered Legal Executives are able to become partners or managers in Legal Disciplinary Practices (firms of different lawyers with 25% non-lawyer managers) and in Alternative Business Structures (firms with external ownership and investment) and set up their own practices.

Judicial roles

Chartered Legal Executives are eligible to apply for many judicial posts and become Chairs of Tribunals.

They are also able to apply for appointment as a Coroner, and can stand for the Judicial Appointments Commissioner posts reserved for legal professionals.

Rights of Audience

The main exception to the general rule (above) that a Chartered Legal Executive under supervision can undertake all work that a solicitor can do, is the right to appear in open court in the High Court, county courts and magistrates’ courts. However, under the County Court (Rights of Audience) Direction 1978 rights of audience were extended to include the following:

(i) certain unopposed applications in the County Court;

(ii) An application for judgment by consent.

In addition to the above rights, a Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer may appear in county court arbitrations and before tribunals at the discretion of the court. This is under the general discretionary power of the court or tribunal.

However, CILEx can award additional advocacy rights to Chartered Legal Executives who have completed the prescribed rights of audience qualification. A Chartered Legal Executive who has successfully completed and passed the advocacy skills course and evidence test may apply to CILEx for the relevant rights of audience certificate.

The granting of the above rights is subject to Chartered Legal Executives being employed in solicitors or other litigators practice and those that have fully paid subscriptions for membership purposes.

Commissioner of Oaths

In English law, a Commissioner of Oaths is a person appointed by the Lord Chancellor with power to administer oaths or take affidavits. All Chartered Legal Executives have these powers but must not use them in proceedings in which they are acting for any of the parties or in which they have an interest.

Further Rights

Chartered Legal Executives may be able to act as claims managers under the Compensation Act if regulated by CILEx.

CILEx is a designated professional body for the purposes of regulating immigration advisors. As such, CILEx can authorise relevant members who are on the immigration register to undertake immigration and asylum services.

Chartered Legal Executives can also give advice on compromise agreements. A compromise agreement is a legally binding agreement usually between an employee and employer when the parties want to set out the terms and conditions reached when a contract of employment is to be terminated or a dispute is to be resolved. Such an agreement can be used, for example in redundancy, by mutual agreement, dismissal, or to settle an Employment Tribunal case.

As a matter of completeness, Chartered Legal Executives employed by Local Authorities or Housing Management Organisations (exercising Local Authority Housing functions) can also exercise certain rights of audience in the magistrates’ courts and county courts acting on behalf of their local authority or housing management employer along with other employees.

Find out about the powers and duties of Chartered Legal Executive lawyers.

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The Legal Choices website is aimed at consumers. It has been put together by the legal regulators and is designed to help members of the public in dealing with lawyers.

Legal Choices has two main aims:

  • to help equip people with the information they might need to make good choices about lawyers and legal services, and
  • to give people more ways to get their views heard and play a stronger role in the work of legal regulators.

Access to the Legal Choices website can be found here.