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SRA board gives go-ahead for Cilex change

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SRA board gives go-ahead for Cilex change

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The board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has greenlit a potential change that could bring members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) under its regulatory purview

In a landmark decision, the board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has greenlit a potential change that could bring members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) under its regulatory purview. This development follows CILEX's proposal to delegate regulatory responsibilities to the SRA, initiated in 2022.

The SRA recently concluded consultations on the regulatory framework for both authorised and non-authorised CILEX members. According to their analysis, integrating CILEX regulation could simplify the regulatory landscape, ensuring uniform standards and enhanced consumer protections across legal professionals.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA, highlighted the decision's focus on public interest, stating, "Since CILEX approached us about this change, we have reflected long and hard on the potential risks and benefits. In making this decision we are conscious of the strong professional interests that are in play, but the key question for us has always been – is this in the public interest? All the evidence shows that consistency and relative simplicity in regulation matters to the users of legal service. This change would result in a simpler system, with more consistent levels of protection for consumers. There will also be efficiency benefits. Most people find the current regulatory landscape bamboozling. This change won’t solve all the issues of complexity, but it would benefit the public."

Jonathan Rees, Chair of Board at CILEx Regulation shared the folliwng sentiment "CRL is extremely disappointed with the SRA Board decision to proceed with CILEX proposals to redelegate the regulation of authorised and non-authorised members of CILEX.

"Over the last ten years, consumers and the profession have benefitted from CRL’s strong independent regulation of all CILEX practitioners. The CILEX/SRA proposals do not match existing levels of consumer protection and could result in consumer confusion. As highlighted by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, CILEX has failed to evidence any positive consumer impacts. CRL believes the evidence underpinning CILEX’s case for change is insufficiently robust and that the interests of consumers and the regulated community is best served by CRL continuing to be the specialist regulator.

"CRL remains concerned that the proposals to redelegate regulatory responsibility in this way are potentially unlawful, and as the Justice Select Committee said raise serious concerns about the model of the 2007 Legal Services Act in undermining efficient and stable regulation. We are therefore considering next steps including recourse to the Courts."

Regarding concerns within the legal profession, Anna Bradley acknowledged mixed sentiments but affirmed the SRA's commitment to preserving the distinct identities of CILEX members and solicitors alike under unified regulation.

"The SRA would also make sure the costs of regulating CILEX members would be fully recovered from their practising certificate fees, so there was no financial cross subsidy between solicitors and CILEX members," Anna Bradley added.

The decision hinges on approval from the Legal Services Board, which would follow if CILEX decides to proceed with delegation. The SRA has released detailed statements and meeting minutes to elucidate its rationale and responses to consultation feedback.

This potential regulatory overhaul signals a significant stride towards a more cohesive and transparent legal regulatory landscape, potentially benefiting both professionals and consumers by enhancing clarity and regulatory efficiency.

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