The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has won the approval of the House of Commons to grant its members rights to conduct reserved probate and conveyancing work.
Justice minister Shailesh Vara told MPs earlier this week that he had moved the necessary draft order under the Legal Services Act 2007 “at the earliest opportunity” after it was tabled at the end of June. The order was expected to be approved before the summer recess.
Mr Vara said the order would allow CILEx members to carry out probate and conveyancing without the supervision of solicitors, and, “once appropriate regulatory arrangements are in place”, to set up their own firms to provide those services.
He said the Legal Services Board (LSB) would make a recommendation to the Lord Chancellor in “due course” to allow ILEX Professional Standards to regulate entities as well as individuals.
“If both orders come into force, they will enable increased competition and innovation in the legal services market,” he said.
“The 2007 Act established a new regulatory framework for legal services. Among the Act’s objectives are to put the consumer at the heart of legal services and to deliver a more effective and competitive market.”
The justice minister went on: “The LSB tested CILEx’s proposals against the criteria set out in the 2007 Act, and it found that CILEx has both the capacity and the capability to undertake an extended regulatory role in the legal services sector.
“The LSB is satisfied that there will be no lowering of standards or lessening of consumer protection. It is satisfied that IPS [ILEX Professional Standards, CILEx’s regulatory arm] will be a capable and effective regulator in the legal services market.
“CILEx’s expansion will contribute to the growth of the legal services market and will bring further innovation, leading to benefits for consumers of legal services.”
Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter endorsed the draft order, saying: “The fact that 74% of CILEx lawyers are women and 32% of its students are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds is a formidable achievement that other parts of the profession could be urged to encourage.”
The order is due to come before the House of Lords next month.
Mr Slaughter claimed that the government had “funked” the issue of the proliferation of regulators by “abruptly” ending its review of legal regulation, but Mr Vara replied that the issue had been “put in the file for review at a later date”.
The House of Commons approved an order designating the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) as an approved regulator for reserved probate work in July this year.
This was followed a few days later by a further order designating the ICAEW as an alternative business structure licensing authority for probate services.