CMA review CILEx backs call for regulatory reform

17 December 2020

CMA review: CILEx backs call for regulatory reform

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has backed the Competition and Markets Authority’s call for the Ministry of Justice to review the current framework for legal services.

Professor Chris Bones, the chair of CILEx, says: “Four years on from its original recommendation to review the regulation of legal services, we are not surprised that the CMA now sees a pressing need for one.

“The shortcomings that were apparent then have not been adequately addressed and we agree that Professor Stephen Mayson’s report earlier this year provides a pathway to reform. Although the legal services sector is becoming more competitive, there are still areas requiring intervention in the interests of consumers that can only be achieved by legislative reform.

“For example, we need to regulate lawyers by the work they do, rather than their professional title – if you want your teeth seen to, you don’t visit a GP – and it’s time we recognise the benefits that diversity in the legal profession can bring.

“The rigidity of the current framework does not recognise large pockets of existing providers, and without additional flexibility risks excluding also those novel technologies and solutions that lawtech can bring for the benefit of consumers and healthy consumer choice.

“Any review should look beyond the Legal Services Act 2007 to include legislation that imposes illogical and outdated restrictions on the market. These include a bar on CILEx lawyers certifying copies of a power attorney under the Powers of Attorney Act 1971 – despite being able to certify originals – and limitations on criminal advocacy work deriving from Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. Both have direct adverse effects on consumer awareness and competition.”

In relation to the CMA’s transparency recommendations, Professor Bones says:

“The CMA’s recommendations have the capacity to make a significant difference to consumers, but there needs to be an aggressive push to make them happen. We need more than baby steps to improve the experience of consumers looking for legal advice.

“Where quality indicators are concerned, we are especially concerned that these must be impartial and independent of any single legal regulator or professional body to provide the level of assurance that the public truly deserves.”

Professor Bones concludes:

“There is much for the legal profession to be proud of. For those it serves, it does a great job. But the CMA’s recommendations will help open it up to the large swathe of the population increasingly denied access to otherwise affordable and effective legal representation.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Louise Eckersley, Black Letter Communications on 0203 567 1208 or email:

louise.eckersley@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Kerry Jack, Black Letter Communications on 07525 756 599 or email:

kerry.jack@blacklettercommunications.co.uk