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Council for Licensed Conveyancers to regulate ABS firms

11 May 2011

An application by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) to regulate ABSs has been approved today by the Legal Services Board.

The move makes the CLC the first body to be approved as an ABS regulator and will allow it compete with the SRA in regulating firms specialising in conveyancing and probate. The LSB is to consider the SRA's application at its board meeting next month.

A spokesman for the LSB said that, in making its application to become an ABS licensing authority, the CLC had reviewed the “entirety of its regulatory framework” and made “significant revisions to ensure an outcome-focused and risk-based approach to regulation”.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has strongly attacked the CLC’s attempts to expand its remit to include the regulation of civil litigation and advocacy services.

In a letter to the LSB in March this year, he said the CLC’s application to become an ABS regulator was a “stepping stone” towards to its application to extend its remit into litigation and advocacy.

“Both lie far outside the scope of the recognised work of a conveyancer: neither bears any resemblance to the types of activities for which the creation of the CLC was conceived.”

The LSB is dealing with this issue separately and is expected to make its decision in July.

The CLC currently regulates ten to 15 per cent of the residential conveyancing market, made up of 1,103 licensed conveyancers, 301 managers and 215 practices.

The LSB said that 30 per cent of firms already regulated by the CLC, accounting for more than half the turnover of the profession, would need to be licensed as ABSs before the end of the transitional period in October 2012.

The LSB said it did not consider that the CLC’s application was about regulatory competition.

“It is about the competence of the CLC as a licensing authority for the areas they currently regulate and ensuring the right protections are in place to address the risks associated with the removal of restrictions on ownership.”

The next step is for the Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke, to approve the CLC’s application as a licensing authority.

Categorised in:

Contracts & Rights Conveyancing