Legal executives seek full spread of rights

Criminal defence: ILEX Professional Standards seeks litigation rights

ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) is to seek conveyancing and criminal advocacy and litigation rights for legal executives, it has emerged.

The regulatory arm of the Institute of Legal Executives is seeking the new rights as part of IPS’s plan to become a regulator of alternative business structures (ABSs).

Speaking at the recent ILEX National Conference, IPS chairman Alan Kershaw explained that IPS could not regulate firms where such work was undertaken if ILEX members themselves could not do it. The most recent ILEX research indicated that almost of third of ILEX members handled conveyancing work, while 4% practised in criminal defence.

Legal Futures understands that the intention is to apply for the rights by the end of the year.

IPS has already begun its plan to acquire all necessary rights for legal executives to handle reserved work. It recently made applications to the Legal Services Board (LSB) for litigation and probate rights for legal executives, as well as to become an approved regulator in respect of advocacy and litigation conducted by associate prosecutors.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers also intends to become an ABS regulator, and having already gained probate rights for its members, is now set to apply for rights of audience and the right to conduct litigation for licensed conveyancers (see story).

The LSB’s recent business plan says that it will investigate the scope of reserved activities during the coming year with the aim of coming up with a coherent approach to this vital issue (see story).

At last month’s ILEX National Conference, IPS board member Nick Smedley – also known for his report on the regulation of corporate law firms for the Law Society – asked the main panel debate whether ABSs hastened the blurring of the different legal professions and, in time, the end of regulators and professional bodies for each of them.

Panellist Chris Kenny, chief executive of the LSB, said it highlighted trends that are increasingly happening – ‘there are “different routes to competence, rather than one golden route” – and he predicted that ABSs will accelerate this. As a result, the question of fusion “will become more live”.

Though observing that change does not happen overnight, Mr Kershaw said: “I don’t see the logic for the number of legal regulators there are now.”


    Readers Comments

  • We have quite a few Fellows (FILEx) in our firm and the difference is not at all noticeable.

    In fact, why should I think there would be one? It is down to an arrogance solicitors have just because we have passed certain other exams. That doesn’t make us better.

    I suspect there is no justification for the various different regulators and “trade unions”.

  • John Flood says:

    Fusion may or may not occur. However, there is a new permeability about the legal professions now that never existed before. It began when solicitors were given advocacy rights and now it is spreading. There will be more choice about the routes into practice.

    I suspect one result of this will be a re-emergence of the class system in law. A hierarchy of legal professions will grow and develop more but it won’t necessarily be the same as the old one of barristers then solicitors then paralegals. Solicitors could easily move to the top.

    If it were seen to affect access then I would foresee problems.

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