28 January 2019
CILEx to seek complete independence for regulator
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has become the first approved legal regulator to announce its intention to give its regulatory body complete structural independence.
The body said that its initial goal was to achieve as much independence for CILEx Regulation as possible under the current rules and lobby for the changes to legislation, including to the Legal Services Act 2007, that would set the independence in stone.
Under the Act, CILEx is named as the approved regulator of Chartered Legal Executives. It delegates its regulatory responsibilities to CILEx Regulation, which has operational independence secured by the CILEx Group’s governance structure and the Legal Services Board’s internal governance rules (IGR).
Responding to a consultation on proposed changes to the IGR, CILEx said its intention was to take the new rules as far they would go, with no dual roles and shared services only where a compelling case exists.
It explained: “This links to CILEx’s overarching objective of achieving full structural independence in the long term and, in the medium term, achieving the greatest degree of independence as can be achieved under the current regulatory framework.”
It would require the government to amend the reference to CILEx in the Act and other legislation to achieve structural separation.
The response continued: “In moving in this direction, CILEx recognises that an incremental approach is necessary, with a gradual reduction in the numbers of shared services, and that it is also paramount that any related changes should not adversely affect the practising certificate fee”
CILEx welcomed the revised IGR, saying they “will enhance the independence of regulatory functions through greater clarity regarding the lines of separation and the terms of the relationship between approved regulators and their regulatory bodies. This should in itself reduce the number of scenarios which could result in dispute and the complexity of compliance/enforcement issues”.
On the detail of the rules, CILEx cautioned that the LSB had not completely succeeded in removing subjective language. This risked alternative interpretations and causing disputes.
It said the most significant example was the continued reference to resources ‘reasonably required’, while giving little specific guidance as to what might be reasonable.
“Indeed, the guidance suggests that this is not a view the approved regulator should or is required to take in case, stating that for ‘an approved regulator who has delegated its regulatory functions, this assessment will be carried out by the regulatory body’. If reasonableness is what the regulatory body says it is, this seems less of an objective application than the IGRs intend.”
CILEx Group Chair, Chris Bones says: “Assuming the IGR are clarified further so as to head off possible disputes over interpretation, they will provide a solid framework for approved regulators to work within.
“They point the way to us achieving the maximum level of independence for CILEx Regulation as is possible under the Legal Services Act. We believe that complete independence is a desirable end-goal so as to provide public confidence that legal regulators have no distraction from their core responsibility of serving the public interest.”
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Notes to Editors:
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is one of the three main professional bodies covering the legal profession in England and Wales. The 20,000-strong membership is made up of Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals and other legal professionals.
CILEx members are regulated through an independent body, CILEx Regulation. It is the only regulator regulating paralegals.
CILEx provides training, with qualifications open to those holding GCSEs, A levels or a degree. Over 100,000 students have chosen CILEx over the last 25 years, with the majority studying whilst in full or part-time employment.
CILEx provides a non-graduate route to qualification as a lawyer, although graduates are also welcomed and the Graduate Fast-track Diploma offers a more affordable and viable alternative to the LPC.
Those who complete the full CILEx qualification are known as Chartered Legal Executives. They can become partners in law firms, coroners, judges or advocates in open court.
The membership is diverse – 75% of members are women and 14% are from a BAME background