However, the number and variety of models involved in the regulation of legal services can be confusing for consumers and professionals alike, and regulation needs to help build understanding and confidence as to the choice of legal professionals available.
Further, independent regulation must be able to operate at sufficient scale to deliver efficient and effective regulation at a cost that is affordable for consumers and the profession.
CILEX believes that the SRA has the scale and reach to provide effective regulation. It already sets clear standards for those that it regulates and all who work in SRA-regulated firms – which around 70% of CILEX practitioners do. Dealing with only one regulator has the potential to make life easier for employers too.
At today’s Annual General Meeting, CILEX informed members that it had written to the SRA to initiate formal talks following consideration of CILEX’s Case for Change. The analysis of the challenges of the current model and the supporting evidence summarised in the Case for Change document have been independently reviewed and validated by Chris Kenny, former Chair of the Legal Services Board (LSB), as a basis for CILEX to move forward with a review of the delegation arrangements. He concurs on the need for early action to address the issues raised.
In conducting the review and inviting the SRA to engage in exploratory talks regarding a potential alternative model, CILEX is discharging its duty as an Approved Regulator under Section 28 of the Legal Services Act and in line with paragraphs 22 and 23 of the LSB Guidance on the Internal Governance Rules. CILEX has notified the LSB of its intentions.
Professor Chris Bones, the chair of CILEX, says: “As a first step, we have asked the SRA to explore the viability of an alternative model. If having explored the proposal, we consider it to be able to offer the enhanced public interest benefits outlined in the Case for Change and to continue to provide effective regulation for CILEX members, we will run a consultation on the impact and implications of the proposed change.
"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."
Any new model would need to preserve the distinct identity of CILEX Lawyers, CILEX Paralegals and CILEX Advanced Paralegals and retain the CILEX route to qualification. Importantly, there would be no cross-subsidy between CILEX practitioners and solicitors on the cost of regulation.
Both solicitors and CILEX members would continue to have their own representative bodies – the Law Society of England and Wales and CILEX respectively – which would continue to be the approved regulators under the Legal Services Act.
Professor Bones adds: "Our decision to explore the possibility of a new model of regulation with the SRA is driven by our desire to ensure independent regulation is sustainable and that consumer needs are met. We will only pursue a change of regulation if we are satisfied that such a change achieves both."
CRL has announced it also intends to review its model of regulation and CILEX will consider any proposals received in light of the case for change.
Any changes to the delegation of the discharge of CILEX’s regulatory functions would require approval from the LSB in accordance with the statutory processes set out in the Legal Services Act 2007, following public consultation.
The review of the CILEX regulatory delegation does not affect the existing regulatory arrangements, including the need to comply with CRL’s Code of Conduct and rules which remain in full effect.
For further information, please contact:
Louise Eckersley, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208 or email:
Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 07525 756 599 or email:
Notes to editors:
CILEX (The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The approximately 20,000-strong membership is made up of CILEX Lawyers, Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.
CILEX pioneered the non-university route into law and recently launched the CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ), a new approach to on-the-job training that marries legal knowledge with the practical skills, behaviours and commercial awareness needed by lawyers in the 2020s.
The CPQ is a progressive qualification that creates a workforce of specialist legal professionals, that can ultimately qualify as a CILEX Lawyer. CILEX Lawyers can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.
CILEX members come from more diverse backgrounds than other parts of the legal profession:
- 76% of its lawyers are women
- 16% identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME)
- 84% attended state schools
- 31% are the first generation in their family to attend university
- Only 3% of its members have a parent who is a lawyer.
CILEX members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator covering paralegals.
Linda Ford is CEO of CILEX.