Licensed conveyancers have spoken out against their regulatory body’s bid to expand its regulatory reach to litigation and advocacy services.
However, a survey of its members by the Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) showed strong support for the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) looking to regulate will-writing and estate administration should they become reserved legal activities.
In April the Legal Services Board rejected the CLC’s application  to regulate litigation and advocacy, but left the door open to a future application, which the CLC is planning. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the 68 respondents to the SLC survey opposed this, while 76% said they did not believe that the income generated by their practising fees should be used to fund it.
However, 87% of respondents supported an expansion into will-writing and estate administration; the CLC can already authorise practitioners to undertake probate work.
SLC chairman Simon Law said: “We took the decision to conduct our own survey as it had become clear that a number of our members were not wholly in support of the CLC’s plans to expand its regulatory role. The CLC has been pushing hard to secure approval from the Legal Services Board to expand into areas such as litigation and advocacy. However, it appears there is little support from the licensed conveyancer community for it to actually achieve this – which leads us to question where the impetus for moving into these areas is coming from.
“The CLC’s income is derived from regulating licensed conveyancers, yet the findings from our survey clearly indicate that the majority are not happy to be funding expansion into areas which they do not feel the CLC should be venturing into. This is something that needs to be addressed.”
In a statement, the CLC said it “remains committed to specialising in what it does best: conveyancing, probate and those other ‘consumer’ legal services that people use on a relatively regular basis. The application to regulate litigation and advocacy has not changed that: rather, we want our existing licence holders to have the opportunity to broaden their skill sets and to work within those specialist areas.
“With the introduction of alternative business structures (ABS) we have recently licensed a number of large organisations in the areas of conveyancing and probate, many of whom offer a range of other legal and property services.
June Mulroy, interim chief executive of the CLC, said: “As an innovative and independent regulator we are looking to the future and need to be responsive to the changes that are taking place in the legal services market and the opportunities that they present. It would be remiss of us as an organisation not to assess those opportunities to see if we can bring our expertise as a regulator to bear in other specialist areas.
“We see this as a positive step that in the longer term will benefit our regulated community as a whole as they would be able to extend their scope and range of regulated services to the public.”