MESSAGE FROM YOUR REGULATOR
A Statement from the CILEx Regulation Limited Board – 12 July 2022
You may have recently received a communication from CILEX indicating that it intends to consider whether to review the current regulatory regime. This may have created the impression that CILEX is in a position to change regulatory arrangements unilaterally or that CILEx Regulation Limited (CRL) has ceased to be the independent body responsible for the regulation of Legal Executives. We would like to reassure you that CRL continues to discharge all of its functions and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
The regulatory regime established by the Legal Services Act 2007 implemented arrangements in which regulatory and representative functions are strictly separated by a system of formal delegation. This is the system that has operated across the legal professions in England and Wales for more than a decade. Each professional body in the legal sector, which was previously responsible for both regulation and representation of its members, was required to delegate its regulatory functions. The title of “approved regulator” did no more than recognise the system adopted. The “residual functions” as approved regulator are very few and strictly prescribed. Approved regulators are prohibited from interfering with regulatory functions.
As a representative body, CILEX is free to bring forward any proposals it wishes consistent with its constitutional documents and its accountability to its members. CRL is always happy to discuss any proposals brought forward by CILEX as the relevant representative body and CRL has a history of constructive engagement with all of its stakeholders including CILEX. In the relatively short time since CRL discovered CILEX’s plans, it has attempted to establish a dialogue with CILEX including proposals for a joint review to ensure the most efficient use of resources. We still think this is the best way forward. We have also offered to cooperate with the Kenny review in a way that is lawful and gives sufficient time for issues to be considered. We regret that CILEX has not yet agreed.
We would like to reassure you that there can be no suggestion that CRL is in any way failing to discharge its responsibilities. In December 2021 we were assessed by the Legal Services Board as one of the best performing regulators of legal services. CRL continues to discharge its regulatory functions in complete compliance with the requirements of the Legal Services Act.
It is with regret that we must note that CILEX’s position appears to have been reached over the period from July 2021 to January 2022 excluding Chartered Legal Executive Board members, without any process of consultation with its own members or CRL, in conditions of great secrecy and on the presumption that its Royal Charter can simply be changed to suit. CRL also regrets that a non-disclosure agreement was imposed by CILEX that prevented us from having appropriate discussions with our regulated community until now.
An effective system of legal regulation depends on independent regulators being able to take robust action without the threat of “de-delegation” of their regulatory functions. Allowing a representative body to shop around for a regulator more to its liking, would create self-evident risks to the robustness of the current regulatory arrangements across the sector and undermine public confidence that regulation is independent of professional interests. CILEX’s suggestion that its internal administrative arrangements to separate its “approved regulator” role from its representative role are adequate or even lawful is not correct.
One of CRL’s key responsibilities as a public interest regulator is to identify and bring forward proposals for change where these are required in an open, transparent and evidence-based way. As set out in our strategic plan, we will shortly be consulting on options to build on 100 years of independent professional development and regulation, which recognise and preserve the distinctive role of CILEX lawyers, contribute to greater competition in the consumer interest, and reduce the cost of the Practising Certificate Fee paid by CILEX practitioners.
We are determined to do our best to minimise the disruption to our functions (including our consultation) likely to be caused by CILEX’s actions.
Should you wish to contact us regarding this matter please do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org