Chartered legal executives are set to have full parity with solicitors after the Legal Services Board (LSB) gave them the right to practise litigation and advocacy independently.
The move follows last week’s approval for ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) to grant Fellows independent probate and conveyancing practice rights.
Until now, CILEx members have only been able to conduct most reserved legal activities under the ‘supervision’ of an authorised person, most commonly a solicitor.
The new rights – which are subject to final sign-off from the Lord Chancellor and Parliament – mean that IPS, the independent regulatory arm of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), will also regulate entities. The next step will be to apply to become an alternative business structure licensing authority.
The LSB said it was satisfied that IPS has “the necessary capability and capacity to enable it to properly commence entity regulation and regulation of Fellows for the conduct of litigation…
“IPS has managed a phased recruitment which has enabled it to bring in people with relevant experience, thus mitigating the risks associated with carrying out a new and expanded scope of reserved legal activities. This includes its ability to undertake supervision and compliance through its risk-based approach.”
CILEx CEO Diane Burleigh said: “This is further recognition of the professionalism and standing of CILEx members, and of IPS’s rigorous and outcomes-focused approach to regulation. It is a major step for consumer choice, for parity between the professions, and for increasing career opportunities in law. The decision is a very fitting climax for our 50th anniversary year.”
The ability for individual Chartered Legal Executives already working in a regulated entity to conduct litigation, exercise rights of audience and provide immigration services without supervision requires no further approval, and IPS expects to begin accepting applications from CILEx Fellows in the summer of 2014.
CILEx said this will benefit “thousands of law firms who currently have unnecessary bureaucracies in place to sign-off on the work of experienced Chartered Legal Executives, including those working as fee-earners and partners”.
IPS will be able to start authorising legal practices offering litigation and immigration services when Parliament has granted powers to set up a compensation fund and to intervene in practices. The LSB has confirmed it will approve IPS’s rules for establishing a compensation fund once Parliament has awarded the relevant powers. IPS is preparing to accept applications from entities from early 2015.
Today’s LSB decision also agreed new IPS rules for regulating immigration advisers.