Chartered legal executives are to have full rights to practise independently after the Lord Chancellor approved their bid to handle probate and conveyancing work without the supervision of a solicitor.
Along with approvals last year of rule changes on litigation, advocacy and immigration activities, it means chartered legal executives will be on an equal footing with solicitors and barristers.
While some chartered legal executives already run their own practices, these can only operate in unreserved areas of work, but there will no limitations when the order introducing the change is presented to Parliament later this year.
Chris Grayling was approving the recommendation of the Legal Services Board in December.
Alan Kershaw, chairman of the regulator, ILEX Professional Standards (IPS), said: “This is an important step for consumer choice and for recognising the standards IPS expects of those we regulate.
“Consumers expect their lawyers to be well trained in their area of specialism and to have a means of recourse if they are not satisfied. These orders help ensure this, and we will now work with our colleagues in Westminster to ensure their smooth passage through Parliament.”
CILEx president Stephen Gowland added: “Consumers can be confident that chartered legal executive-run businesses will provide a competitive and high-quality service, and the public will have greater choice over who they get their legal services from.
“Current law firms will also be able to deploy CILEx members to their full potential, and not be bound up in red tape with unnecessary sign-off requirements. As the legal services industry is changing, these orders will help make us more resilient, innovative and diverse.”
IPS expects to begin accepting applications for authorisation in the summer. It is working with the Ministry of Justice on orders to put client protection measures in place, including a compensation fund and intervention arrangements. These are expected to be approved by Parliament later this year, after which CILEx authorised practitioners will be able to set up fully in business on their own.
IPS will also apply to the Legal Services Board in due course to be able to license alternative business structures (ABSs).
As reported last week, Mr Grayling also approved an application by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to become a regulator of probate services and licensing authority for ABSs. He further approved the applications of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys for their joint regulator, the Intellectual Property Regulation Board, to become an ABS licensing authority.