The House of Lords has given the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) the power to issue standalone licences for people to conduct reserved probate work without them having to become licensed conveyancers first.
During the third reading of the Deregulation Bill on Wednesday, peers accepted government amendments enabling the CLC to issue the licenses to people who will be known by law as licensed CLC practitioners.
In the future – if the CLC pushes forward successfully with the idea of being authorised to regulate litigation – it could also mean standalone litigators.
A spokesman for the CLC said the move would “remove an unnecessary hurdle to new practitioners” and support its strategy of promoting competition and innovation.
Lord Wallace, Cabinet Office spokesman in the Lords, said provisions in the Administration of Justice Act 1985 and the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 meant that the CLC “can authorise a body or person only if that body or person is licensed to provide conveyancing services”.
The Liberal Democrat peer said: “This is a restriction that none of the other legal services approved regulators has. The purpose of the amendments is to remove this restriction.”
Lord Wallace said the amendments included extending section 32 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to “cover the full range of reserved legal activities for which the council is an approved regulator or for which the council may in the future be an approved regulator, if it were to be further designated”.
Currently, for a licensed conveyancer to gain probate rights, they has to undertake a foundation course in the law of wills and succession and a final course in probate practice, while they must also complete two years practical training in probate.
Baroness Hayter, the Labour peer and former chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel who has championed the changes in Parliament which the government then took on, said the move was important because it took forward “the intention in the Legal Services Act to increase the availability of legal services”.
Anna Bradley, chair of the CLC, said she was “delighted that the government was able to bring forward its own amendments to secure our objectives”.
Ms Bradley went on: “Being able to issue stand-alone licences to specialist probate practitioners supports our strategy of specialisation in property law services, maintaining high standards of consumer protection while driving competition and innovation.”
ILEX Professional Standards has been accepting applications since the start of November from chartered legal executives and others wishing to practice as CILEx probate practitioners and CILEx conveyancing practitioners, without the supervision of solicitors.