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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Lawtech: CILEx calls for regulatory changes in response to demand

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Lawtech: CILEx calls for regulatory changes in response to demand

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The regulatory framework must change to accommodate the growth of emerging lawtech solutions and increasing use of remote access to legal services, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has said

The regulatory framework must change to accommodate the growth of emerging lawtech solutions and increasing use of remote access to legal services, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has said.

CILEx, which regulates legal executives, was responding to a call for input from the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) on its ongoing review into legal services.

It said the impact of covid-19 has accelerated consumer demand, particularly in private client and conveyancing – a trend set to continue beyond the pandemic.

A regulatory framework which can effectively scrutinise and regulate emerging technologies is needed, the regulator added.

In its response to the CMA, CILEx argued there are still areas requiring the CMA’s intervention to demystify the legal market for consumers, give them access to a range of legal professionals and ensure regulation reflects technological developments.

Its response said: “The regulatory framework will need to shift to enable these digital solutions, which are created, coded and maintained by non-legal middlemen, and may even eliminate the role of legal practitioners within certain legal processes, to be effectively regulated, or at the very least moderated, to ensure minimum standards within legal service delivery and healthy competition for the sector.”

CILEx called for impartiality in relation to quality indicators that could help consumers choose a lawyer, to prevent them from being detrimental to competition in legal services.

It also highlighted the role of legislation which “often unjustifiably excludes non-solicitors/barrister legal professionals from undertaking certain tasks because it does not reflect the modernisation of legal regulation introduced in the Legal Services Act 2007” – which it says “has direct adverse effects on consumer awareness and competition”.

CILEx chair, professor Chris Bones, said: “The CMA’s ongoing review of the legal services market, building on its comprehensive 2016 Market Study, is important if the legal services sector is to become more competitive and offer better value to consumers.”

There are still areas, he added, that are outdated and where “illogical anomalies” need to be addressed, which would benefit from the CMA’s support.

“The remedies delivered”, he added, “would make the legal market more transparent for consumers, allow customers to access a greater range of legal service providers and ensure regulation reflects technological developments.”

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