Update on CILEX reform programme

Update on CILEX reform programme: Enhancing Consumer Trust and Confidence, March 2024

As you will be aware, CILEX is currently engaged in a significant reform programme, designed to ensure that our Charter, Byelaws and regulatory arrangements continue to provide a suitable framework to support CILEX’s primary duties to protect the public and act in the public interest as both an Approved Regulator under the Legal Services Act 2007 and as a Chartered Institute.

Following publication of the outcomes of our Enhancing Consumer Trust and Confidence consultation in January 2024, and having considered further information received from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, at our Board meeting in February, we are now pleased to be able to provide you with a further update on the timeline, process and the next steps we will be taking to  implement changes to our governance, membership structure and regulatory delegation.  

Widening Participation

Member responses to the consultation demonstrated overwhelming support for CILEX to grant voting rights to all grades of member and to enable the appointment of paralegals and student members on to its Professional Board. In response we have now prepared the necessary amendments to our Charter and Byelaws to facilitate this change.

Once the Privy Council has approved the changes, CILEX will conduct a recruitment exercise to appoint student, Paralegal and Chartered Paralegal members into its governance structure. The changes will also allow all grades of member to vote at the Annual General Meeting and call for and participate in Special General Meetings.

Chartered Paralegal

Again, results from the consultation showed strong levels of support across the membership for the revised grading of Paralegals within CILEX. In preparation for a new Chartered Paralegal grade of member, CILEX has successfully piloted its assessment process designed to make this happen in the most effective manner for both existing and prospective members and we have now finalised the new standard against which the Chartered Paralegal status will be awarded.

On receipt of approval from the Privy Council, CILEX will offer its existing paralegals (those in Paralegal, Advanced Paralegal and Graduate grades and those transitioning from the Institute of Paralegals), who hold at least five years’ experience, the opportunity to apply for Chartered Paralegal status.

CILEX will relaunch the Professional Paralegal Register later this year, giving employers and the public the ability to validate the credentials of CILEX Paralegals and Chartered Paralegals.

Chartered Lawyer Titles

As reported in our Consultation Outcomes Report, responses received from members and from other respondents led CILEX to make revisions to its proposed new Chartered Lawyer titles. The titles will retain the link to the CILEX qualification and will maintain distinct professional identity as a ‘CILEX Chartered Lawyer’. We expect these new titles to come into effect from January 2025 following the next membership renewal cycle.

The revised titles for those working in reserved areas are:

CILEX Chartered Litigator and Advocate (Family/Civil/Criminal)

CILEX Chartered Property Lawyer

CILEX Chartered Probate Lawyer

CILEX Chartered Immigration Lawyer

For those undertaking unreserved work, specialism can be included at the end of the title, e.g. CILEX Chartered Lawyer (Employment).

All CILEX Fellows, regardless of whether they hold independent practice rights, remain able to use the title Chartered Legal Executive and this will continue to be on the practising certificate issued by the regulator.

Next steps

Having now finalised the details of the changes to our governance and membership grades and titles, an application can be made to the Privy Council to amend our Charter and Byelaws.

This will involve holding a Special General Meeting to adopt the revisions. More details will be circulated on the timing of this once Privy Council scheduling is confirmed.

Regulation of CILEX members

In relation to proposals to redelegate the regulation of CILEX members to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), this process requires a longer timetable. The earliest date for any change of regulation is 2025.

CILEX has now received additional assurances and clarifications from the SRA in respect of issues raised during the consultation process, namely:

  • How the SRA proposes to regulate CILEX Paralegals and other non-authorised categories of CILEX members;
  • Re-confirmation of the SRA’s independence from the Law Society and the provision of an equal voice for the CILEX and solicitor professions sitting separately within the SRA domain;
  • Assurance regarding the cost of regulation and the principle of no cross-subsidy, particularly pertinent in light of the Axiom Ince case;
  • More detail as to how the SRA will fulfil its commitment to preserve the distinct identities and routes into the law of solicitors and CILEX Lawyers; and
  • Proposals as to how SRA branding can be adapted to better reflect its jurisdiction regulating a range of legal professionals.

At its Board meeting on 23 January 2024, the SRA reviewed the outcomes of its own consultation, together with the request for assurances received from CILEX. The SRA Board reconfirmed its willingness to regulate CILEX members and committed to run a further follow-up consultation on how it will regulate CILEX paralegals and students. This consultation is expected imminently.

Details of the SRA proposals and the assurances provided to CILEX can be found here.

The SRA Board will meet again in June to consider the outcomes of its consultation on the regulation of CILEX paralegals and students and to finalise its position on the regulation of CILEX professionals.

The CILEX Board will then meet in July, in public session, to make a final decision on whether to proceed to submit an application to the Legal Services Board (LSB) to transfer its regulatory delegation to the SRA.

Should an application be made, the LSB will have 90 days to consider the request and reach a decision. If approval is granted, a transitional plan will be agreed to enable a phased and smooth handover from CILEx Regulation to the SRA, under the oversight of the LSB. This would include agreement of the date, no earlier than 2025, from which the SRA would take over regulatory responsibility.

CILEX Leadership responsibilities 

Recognising the extensive work involved in securing and implementing the Charter and regulatory changes whilst maintaining CILEX’s existing operational commitments, CILEX has made some changes to its leadership structure to ensure the continuation of business as usual alongside the assurance of support to members.

Linda Ford, who has been CILEX’s Chief Executive Officer since 2017 will continue to lead the reform work, including the Charter changes and review of our regulatory delegation, as Registrar of the institute. As well as maintaining executive responsibility for CILEX’s reform agenda, Linda will continue to lead on public interest duties, regulatory compliance, governance, stakeholder engagement and public affairs activity.  

Craig Hamer, who has led CILEX’s operational delivery as Chief Operating Officer since 2022, has now taken over from Linda as operational CEO with responsibility for commercial, education and membership service functions.

The CILEX Board are confident that these changes will continue to preserve the necessary separation of CILEX’s commercial and public interest activities as well as ensuring resources can be balanced across both strategic priorities and operational activities.

To keep in touch with the latest developments on all of these changes please refer to our dedicated webpage and look out for updates and upcoming webinars published in our member newsletters and CILEX Journal.

These are exciting times for CILEX, for our profession and for you, our members. Be assured, the focus of the CILEX Board and the CILEX Professional Board remains firmly on ensuring a successful and smooth transition through the necessary process of governance and regulatory reform.

Read more about the consultation

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