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CILEx to seek complete independence for regulator

Response to internal governance rules’ consultation in tune with Legal Services Board strategy to secure full independence for regulators

30 January 2019

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The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) will seek to give its regulatory body complete structural independence, the organisation has announced.

CILEx, the approved frontline regulator for chartered legal executives, said its initial goal was to achieve as much independence for CILEx Regulation, its arms-length regulator, as possible under the current rules. It would then lobby for the necessary changes to the Legal Services Act 2007, which has set up the current regulatory framework for all legal regulators, to secure formal independence in law.

The act currently names CILEx as the approved regulator of Chartered Legal Executives, but regulatory responsibilities are delegated to CILEx Regulation. The relationship between the two is governed by the CILEx Group’s governance structure and the Legal Services Board’s internal governance rules (IGR).

CILEx’s position is set out in its response to the LSB’s consultation on IGRs, where CILEx explains its intention to take the new rules as far they would go.

The move chimes with the strategy currently deployed by the LSB, which, in the absence of any government appetite for legislative change, intends to leverage the IGRs to secure as much autonomy as possible for all regulators.

Unlike the Law Society, which is seeking to retain some control over the Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx welcomed the revised IGR, saying they “will enhance the independence of regulatory functions through greater clarity regarding the lines of separation and the terms of the relationship between approved regulators and their regulatory bodies. This should in itself reduce the number of scenarios which could result in dispute and the complexity of compliance/enforcement issues”.

The response further explains that the move is in line with CILEx’s “overarching objective of achieving full structural independence in the long term and, in the medium term, achieving the greatest degree of independence as can be achieved under the current regulatory framework.”

The change would require the government to amend the reference to CILEx in the act and other legislation to achieve structural separation.

In the meantime, CILEx said it recognised that “an incremental approach is necessary, with a gradual reduction in the numbers of shared services, and that it is also paramount that any related changes should not adversely affect the practising certificate fee.”

But the legal executives' body urged the LSB to remove subjective language from the rules, such as a continued reference to resources ‘reasonably required’, which it says is not clearly defined and could cause further confusion.

CILEx group chair, Chris Bones (pictured) said: “Assuming the IGR are clarified further so as to head off possible disputes over interpretation, they will provide a solid framework for approved regulators to work within.

“They point the way to us achieving the maximum level of independence for CILEx Regulation as is possible under the Legal Services Act. We believe that complete independence is a desirable end-goal so as to provide public confidence that legal regulators have no distraction from their core responsibility of serving the public interest.”

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