CILEx sets out policy agenda for 2019

08 January 2019 

CILEx sets out policy agenda for 2019

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) will be lobbying for changes to the legal system in 2019 and demanding that the legal framework recognises that Chartered Legal Executives operate on a par with solicitors and are part of the solution to many current systemic problems. CILEx urges ministers to stop stalling and act now.

As we head into the new year, CILEx President, Phil Sherwood outlines the Institute’s key policy and law reform priorities for 2019:

  • Take diversity seriously by opening up senior judicial roles to Chartered Legal Executives: The judiciary struggles to reflect the society it serves, with considerable under representation of women and ethnic minorities. The solution is staring government in the face but is ignored due to professional snobbery. CILEx’s membership is far more diverse than its solicitor and barrister counterparts, yet Chartered Legal Executives, who are qualified to the same level as solicitors, are currently unable to apply for court and tribunal posts higher than district judge. It’s high time this changed.

  • Let CILEx lawyers sell their services abroad post-Brexit: Despite significant lobbying of successive governments, unlike other lawyers Chartered Legal Executives are unrecognised in the EU Lawyer Recognition Directive. This unreasonably restricts their ability to offer services to other EU countries. It has prevented solicitor firms, the largest employers of Chartered Legal Executives, from deploying their staff efficiently, as well as denying consumers a full choice of providers. This is outdated and CILEx is asking that, when settling post-Brexit arrangements, Chartered Legal Executives be properly recognised as lawyers alongside their solicitor and barrister counterparts in any future trade agreement with the EU, mirroring domestic parity.

  • Change out of date laws precluding CILEx from provision of certain services: CILEx lawyers have a key role to play in making justice accessible but are unreasonably precluded from providing certain services. CILEx lawyers do the same work as their solicitor counterparts, but, for example, cannot prove a Power of Attorney by means of a certified copy. This is due to out of date laws that have remained unchanged since the seventies.

  • Move justice higher up the political agenda: The public think justice is as important as health and education; we learned this during Justice Week 2018. Yet it has suffered more cuts and underinvestment than most areas of public spending. CILEx will work to ensure justice has a central place in policy making, giving a meaningful voice to victims, protecting rights where they are threatened, and re-investing in the national treasure that is our justice system.

  • Legal Aid and the role of CILEX lawyers in providing access to justice: CILEx will continue to campaign for access to justice and for a reinstatement in Legal Aid spend in recognition of the crisis faced by thousands unable to gain legal support. The delayed LASPO review must recognise the importance of a healthy and dynamic legal services market, of both generalists and specialists, as part of the solution. CILEx professionals are one way the state can deliver quality support and CILEx are looking to the government to recognise this in the upcoming spending review.

  • Providing a reality check to Government on legislative reform: Government needs to take their fingers out of their ears. Reform of the law does not take place in a vacuum. As specialists in their fields, CILEx members practise at the coal face and can provide an expert view to government and parliament. Changes underway in leasehold, personal injury, no-fault divorce, and debt recovery work will benefit from the input of CILEx members – but consultation is a two-way street. Our public figures must wholly expel the dangerous notion that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts’. 

·    Influencing apprenticeship policy:

CILEx provides a genuinely accessible and affordable path to a legal career. As the Government’s Trailblazer Apprenticeships policy matures, CILEx want to ensure that no new barriers are imposed and that apprenticeships facilitate access to the profession for people from all backgrounds. Taxpayers’ money must be used effectively to develop professionals with the skills to meet the demands of the sector.

Philip Sherwood, the president of CILEx, says: “Chartered Legal Executives and solicitors have been performing the same roles for decades, but their public standing, and many areas of our legal system, is yet to catch up with that reality.  Three quarters of our membership are women and we have far greater representation from ethnic minorities and state-school backgrounds than other parts of the profession. This diversity, along with the technical specialism many of our members have, means CILEx has a unique perspective to offer policy makers.  In 2019, CILEx will be pushing to have its voice heard on areas such as court reform and access to justice.

“It is also vital that in the interests of a diverse, competitive and dynamic legal market that serves both the public and business, that our laws keep pace with changes to the profession. Competition requires a level playing field, and so we are committed to working in the public interest to remove any outdated restrictions that unjustly prevent Chartered Legal Executives from offering to consumers the full range of services they are capable of.”

 

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

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

kerry.jack@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

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

louise.eckersley@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

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 covering 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.