LSB paves way for CLC to expand beyond conveyancing


Sheila Kumar

Kumar: no need to qualify as licensed conveyancers

The statutory framework of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) could be changed in a way that would potentially enable it to regulate all reserved legal activities, under plans outlined by the Legal Services Board (LSB).

Launching a consultation on the issue, the LSB said the changes would allow the CLC, for the first time, to regulate firms and individuals who wanted to carry out probate work without the need for them to be licensed conveyancers.

The super-regulator said a draft order under section 69 of the Legal Services Act would create a new kind of individual and firm, a “licensed CLC practitioner” and “CLC practitioner services body”, which could be regulated for reserved legal activities that did not include conveyancing.

Meanwhile, figures from the CLC quoted in a draft impact assessment at the end of the consultation paper show that the total turnover of the firms it regulates increased by 13% in 2013, and is currently over £120m.

The number of alternative business structures (ABSs) regulated by the CLC has reached 41 and the total number of licensed conveyancers 1,231, 60 more than this time last year.

Sheila Kumar, chief executive of the CLC, said the proposed changes would “streamline the way that we can regulate and remove unnecessary requirements”, allowing standalone licences to be issued for non-conveyancing work.

“We will no longer have to require probate practitioners, for example, to qualify as licensed conveyancers before we can regulate their probate work. This is an important measure that will ease our mission to provide high standards of consumer protection while supporting innovation and competition in the provision of legal services.

“It’s an excellent example of a quite simple deregulatory measure that will lead to positive change in the operation and impact of regulation.”

The LSB said in the consultation paper that it rejected the CLC’s application to regulate litigation and advocacy in 2012, on the grounds that the council lacked the power to make the necessary rules and regulations. The super-regulator said the CLC’s intention was to submit a new “extension of scope” application in 2015 or 2016.

However, a spokesman for the CLC said the regulation of property-related litigation was not currently the priority, and would depend on the level of demand from members.

CLC chair Anne Bradley said earlier this year that the regulator would, in time, apply again for litigation rights as part of its ambition to become a more wide-ranging property sector regulator.

 

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