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Shaping Legal Regulation: CILEx Regulation's Testimony and Calls for Enhanced Oversight and Diversity

Shaping Legal Regulation: CILEx Regulation's Testimony and Calls for Enhanced Oversight and Diversity


CILEx Regulation emphasizes legal regulatory improvements—calling for independence, diversity, and focused oversight

On Tuesday 29th November, CILEx Regulation Limited (CRL) delivered verbal testimony before the Justice Select Committee, outlining essential modifications required to uphold effective regulation within the legal profession, the pivotal role of CRL in fostering increased diversity and access to justice through focused regulatory oversight of chartered legal executives, and the ramifications of lacking regulatory independence within the sector.

During their testimony, CRL Chief Executive John Barwick and Independent Chair Jonathan Rees delineated the distinctive aspects characterizing CRL and its regulated community compared to other segments of the legal services sector. They emphasized the pivotal role of CRL's regulatory framework in supporting access to justice in the public interest.

Following sessions involving the Bar Standards Board and Bar Council, where the diversity of barristers was questioned, both CILEX and CRL demonstrated the evolution of a notably more diverse profession within their regulated community. This community exhibited higher representation of women, older individuals, attendees of state schools, and individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds, offering increased diversity and accessibility in legal services, particularly for marginalized communities.

Regarding queries about the effectiveness of the current regulatory regime, particularly the Legal Services Act, Jonathan Rees concurred with Professor Stephen Mayson's opinion, labeling it somewhat outdated and burdensome. He advocated for a scrutiny of three key areas that CRL wishes to address:

  • Independence of regulators: Rees stressed the significance of regulators operating independently to best serve the public and consumer interests, advocating for enshrining regulatory independence in law.
  • Avoidance of diluted regulatory oversight: CRL's unique provision of independent quality assurance for over 9,000 non-authorised paralegals was highlighted as crucial in enhancing outcomes for consumers. Concerns were raised about potential redelegation proposals that might remove these paralegals from independent regulation, underscoring the importance of maintaining robust regulatory oversight.
  • -Reviewing the work of the LSB: While acknowledging the positive aspects of LSB's work, Rees questioned the substantial budget increases and their impact on frontline regulation. He proposed a shift in LSB's role towards inspiring best practices rather than acting as a strict enforcer.

Jonathan and John identified several key points from CRL's future proposals, including educational reforms, improved access to justice, support for chartered legal executives' career progression, and enhanced consumer protection measures.

Expressing agreement with the concept of regulating by specialism rather than title, CRL supported the notion in principle but highlighted the impracticality of comparing CRL's specialized work with the Solicitor Regulation Authority's broader oversight.

Concluding the session, James Daly MP sought affirmation from CRL about its performance, highlighting the consensus among members that maintaining a focused regulator familiar with the sector was essential. Challenging the foundation of CILEX's proposals, Daly noted the wisdom in allowing a regulator deemed effective by its members to continue its operations, which Jonathan Rees supported, emphasizing the importance of conducting lawful and assessed changes.

Ultimately, Rees reiterated concerns regarding the lawfulness of proposed changes, echoing the sentiment that changing an effective regulatory structure carries significant costs and requires comprehensive impact assessments.

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