CILEx Regulation claims support for retaining role

Davies: 60th CILEX president

CILEx Regulation (CRL) has claimed support for remaining the regulator of chartered legal executives from its recent consultation on how the present system can work better.

Meanwhile, the new president of CILEX has urged the rest of the legal profession to recognise the value of her members and ensure they have parity of opportunity.

The consultation was the latest stage in the dispute that followed the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) announcing last year that it was considering whether to switch regulator to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Following an investigation by the Legal Services Board this spring, CILEX agreed to pause consideration of alternative proposals to enable CRL to conduct the consultation.

Some 68% of the 1,018 respondents said it was not a priority to change the current regulatory system, while 74% agreed with the statement that “the CILEX profession is enhanced by having its own regulator focused on the profession’s unique place in the delivery of legal services”.

A further 81% agreed that “a tailored approach to the regulation of a unique profession by
its own regulator is beneficial”. But a slim majority (53%) was against CRL changing its name with a view to improving recognition of the distinct roles of CRL and CILEX.

Two-thirds also agreed that increasing operational separation was a desirable goal and CRL said it has now proposed to CILEX that they consider the feasibility of achieving mutual financial independence.

Almost all respondents wanted CRL to increase its work on championing the work of CILEX professionals.

CRL said it would place “new emphasis and resources on its long-standing ambition to increase the brand, reach and influence of CILEX professionals across the broader legal profession, with consumers, government and institutions”.

There was also strong support for CRL’s plans to make it easier to set up a law firm.

CRL chair Jonathan Rees said: “We have always said that any changes to the current regulatory arrangements should be based on wide-scale consultation and engagement with those affected.

“We have therefore used the results of this consultation to shape our proposals to the CILEX board on the way forward, building on what has been achieved whilst adapting to meet new challenges.”

A CILEX spokeswoman said its board was meeting today “to consider next steps in CILEX’s review of its regulatory delegation”.

Separately, CILEX and CRL have issued a joint consultation proposing an unchanged practising certificate fee of £367 for 2024, with the two absorbing the extra cost of the regulatory levies imposed by the Legal Services Board.

CRL’s budget for 2024 is set to be £1.9m – of which £1.6m will come from practising fees – and CILEX’s £11.2m. Only £834,000 of CILEX’s income will come from practising fees; under the Legal Services Act, representative bodies are allowed to use such fees for certain activities.

Yesterday, meanwhile, Emma Davies became CILEX’s 60th president. A regulatory law specialist at the Royal College of Nursing, where she represents members subject to Nursing & Midwifery Council proceedings, she began her legal career almost 20 years ago.

She initially trained to become a chartered legal executive while a legal secretary at Exeter firm Symes Robinson & Lee before joining Rundlewalker Solicitors as a personal injury lawyer.

Speaking at a member event in Exeter in Devon to mark her inauguration, Ms Davies said: “After many years of lobbying and campaigning, CILEX has seen some big wins in removing the legislative and policy barriers to CILEX lawyers having the same career opportunities as solicitors.

“These are considerable achievements – the barriers continue to fall and CILEX continues to chip away at any that remain.”

The Ministry of Justice recently set out its vision of ensuring that “there are no unnecessary barriers preventing CILEX members progressing their careers”.

She said her focus would be pushing for “parity in the workplace”, ensuring members “have the careers they want and deserve without limitations” and “are afforded the same career development opportunities as other legal colleagues”, based on merit not title or background.

Ms Davies continued: “I have a request to the wider legal sector. I ask that we change the narrative once and for all and focus on what our members bring to the table, rather than undermine how we got there. A united and diverse legal profession will only better serve our diverse society.”

CILEX research in 2021 found that many of its members faced discrimination and unfair treatment by fellow professionals and particularly their employers, because their qualification was seen as making them “lesser lawyers”.

CILEX acquired the Institute of Paralegals earlier this year and Ms Davies said the paralegal role was a career in its own right.

She said: “We are the home for all aspiring legal professionals who cannot afford to go to university, who do not want to go to university, or quite simply who see the value in our vocational route to qualification as an all-round package, whether that be via the CILEX Professional Qualification or apprenticeship route, working and gaining valuable hands-on practical experience alongside their studies. Every CILEX member I have met has their own very unique story.”

    Readers Comments

  • Okang Eta says:

    This is an excellent outcome for the CILEX practitioners who have for long endured the undue, unflattering and unnecessary lack of professional respect. CILEX members absolutely deserve better treatment and respect from ALL fellow lawyers. We are absolutely ready for the change and transformation, which is on the way. We thank CLR for the strength of their resolve.

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