Parliament gives green light to open up probate and conveyancing rights

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24 October 2014

Parliament: greater competition

The House of Lords yesterday gave the final go-ahead for chartered legal executives and others with appropriate expertise to offer probate and conveyancing services without the supervision of solicitors.

The new system will go live on 3 November, and applications to the regulator, ILEX Professional Standards (IPS), are open to anyone – not just chartered legal executives – who can demonstrate they are competent to practise in conveyancing or probate through proving knowledge, skills and experience.

Individuals who are granted authorisation for the new practice rights will be able to call themselves CILEx conveyancing practitioners, or CILEx probate practitioners.

With the House of Commons having last month approved the statutory instrument required to bring the regime into force, it was the turn of the House of Lords yesterday, and peers from all parties spoke strongly in favour, praising among other things the diversity of the member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).

Proposing the order, Conservative peer Lord Ashton said the changes will “enable increased competition and innovation in the legal services market”.

Fellow Tory Baroness Buscombe added: “The benefits are numerous. First, the cutting of bureaucracy that prevents CILEx’s specialist lawyers from competing on an equal footing with other practitioners will enable existing firms to operate more effectively and less bureaucratically by freeing up their workforce.

“Specialist CILEx lawyers who are considering applying for these rights are already well experienced in these areas. Many of them have trained and qualified in these areas from the outset.

“Perhaps more important is the consumer interest. Consumers will have greater choice over legal service providers.”

Alan Kershaw, chair of IPS, said: “Many chartered legal executives already carry out these types of work successfully for clients and, in their field, are as competent as a solicitor doing the same work. We are confident that many CILEx members will come forward to be authorised to practise in their own right.

“And on this occasion we are particularly excited that it is open to anyone to apply. Those already practising as a conveyancer, or providing probate services, can seek authorisation from us without having to be a chartered legal executive. We have taken care, though, to set the bar at a level that gives full assurance of each practitioner’s competence; only those who can prove in-depth knowledge, with the full range of skills and pertinent experience, will be authorised.”

Further statutory instruments are to be made later this year to establish protection arrangements for consumers that will enable IPS to begin regulating businesses as well as individual practitioners, and allow the holders of these independent rights to set up their own practices.

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