LSB approves full range of practice rights for CILEx members

CILEx Press Release

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has approved another set of applications from ILEX Professional Standards (IPS), this time to regulate Chartered Legal Executives exercising litigation and related rights of audience independently, as well as new rules for regulating immigration advisers. This follows last week’s approval for IPS to regulate independent probate and conveyancing practice rights.

The suite of applications was submitted by IPS in March 2013 on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Their approval recognises the parity between CILEx members and other legal professionals, as well as IPS’s capability to regulate new areas.

CILEx CEO Diane Burleigh OBE said: “This is further recognition of the professionalism and standing of CILEx members, and of IPS’s rigorous and outcomes-focused approach to regulation. It is a major step for consumer choice, for parity between the professions, and for increasing career opportunities in law. The decision is a very fitting climax for our 50th anniversary year.”

The ability for individual Chartered Legal Executives already working in a regulated entity to conduct litigation, exercise rights of audience and provide immigration services without supervision requires no further approval, and IPS expects to begin accepting applications from CILEx Fellows in the Summer of 2014. This will benefit thousands of law firms who currently have unnecessary bureaucracies in place to sign-off on the work of experienced Chartered Legal Executives, including those working as fee-earners and partners.

IPS will be able to start authorising legal practices offering litigation and immigration services when Parliament has granted powers to set up a compensation fund and to intervene in practices. The LSB has confirmed it will approve IPS’s rules for establishing a compensation fund once Parliament has awarded the relevant powers.

Ian Watson, IPS CEO added: “We will be supporting the Ministry of Justice in preparing the necessary orders. In the meantime we are preparing to accept applications from Fellows for litigation, advocacy and immigration rights from Summer 2014 and applications from entities from early 2015 following Parliamentary approval.”

Currently, CILEx members are able to conduct many reserved legal activities only under the ‘supervision’ of an authorised person, most commonly a solicitor.

Stephen Gowland, CILEx President, added: "I and many other Chartered Legal Executives have been practising in these areas for years, but in order to do so independently we had to either be working for a solicitor, or become one. This welcome decision acknowledges that we are lawyers, and should be recognised as equals."

IPS will apply in due course for CILEx to be able to license alternative business structures managed or owned by non-lawyers. That application, like the present one, will need to be approved by the LSB.

Consula's Maritn Callan, being a Chartered Legal Executive, is confident that these enhanced practice rights will deliver more competition and drive up standards in the legal marketplace at a time of significant change and restructuring.