The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published a consultation on potential changes to its regulatory arrangements to enable it to be the regulator for authorised members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX). This follows a CILEX consultation launched earlier this month on proposals to re-delegate the regulation of its members.
The current regulator for members of CILEX has up until now been CILEX Regulation, who in August 2023 issued its own consultation on the best way forward for the regulation nof CILEX members. There has for some time now been some disatisfaction as to the regulation of CILEX members with CILEX putting forward last year a proposal for a review of its delegated regulatory arrangements. CILEX approached the SRA about this potential change at that time and the Board of the SRA agreed that taking on the regulation of authorised CILEX members would have the potential to deliver tangible benefits to consumers of legal services and the wider public.
The SRA argue that the proposed change would simplify the complex regulatory landscape, making it easier for consumers to navigate and could bring more consistent levels of protection and information. For example, firms owned and managed by CILEX members will have the same level of indemnity insurance as solicitors’ practices, and will publish the same range of information about their costs and services. Clearly this increases the responsibilities for CILEX members, but many feel that the benefits outweigh the burdens.
The consultation that the SRA has issued sets out its proposed approach to the regulation of authorised CILEX members, including maintaining distinct identities for authorised CILEX lawyers and solicitors. To support this, a separate Code of Conduct for CILEX lawyers – which is aligned with the standards and regulations for solicitors but mindful of differences in role and context – would be introduced.
A distinct CILEX route to authorisation would also be retained.
The consultation also confirms that the costs of regulating authorised CILEX lawyers would be fully recovered from the practising certificate fees of CILEX members, and that there would be no cross subsidy between solicitors and CILEX lawyers.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said:
‘Bringing together the regulation of solicitors and authorised CILEX lawyers has obvious benefits in terms of simplification and consistency of regulatory processes and procedures and more consistent protection to the public. We believe the changes outlined in our consultation will enable this to happen, while also allowing for a smooth transfer of responsibilities.’
The consultation entitled “Arrangements for SRA regulation of CILEX members” will run until 22 November, with views invited on the rule changes outlined within.
A separate consultation run by CILEX addresses their case for re-delegating the regulation of its members to the SRTA, alongside other proposed changes. This consultation is already open and runs until 5 November (see www.cilex.org.uk/membership/regulation/faq/).
If we and CILEX agree to proceed with re-delegation after the current consultations, the Legal Services Board would need to agree to the relevant changes to both organisations’ regulatory arrangements.