Specialist regulator raises red flag over SRA proposals

Solicitors Regulation Authority plans to take control of more CILEX members than originally proposed will weaken the regulatory landscape and confuse the public, the legal executives’ current regulator has warned.

After consulting last year on regulating CILEX members authorised to carry out reserved legal activities, the SRA is now consulting on adding CILEX paralegals and students, who are not authorised to carry out reserved legal activities, under its control.

However, CILEx Regulation, the specialist regulator overseeing CILEX members, has raised several concerns in its three-page response.

According to the SRA consultation, 75% of CILEX members work in SRA-regulated firms and the SRA believes its proposals will be ‘simpler for consumers as they will only deal with one regulator’. Firms would only need to report an employee to the SRA, rather than to the SRA and CILEx Regulation as is currently the case.

CILEx Regulation says the proposals do not adequately address how non-authorised members working outside SRA-regulated firms will be regulated, ‘or address the risk that the proposed arrangements may dilute the coverage and rigour of the existing CRL regulatory arrangements and could result in consumer confusion regarding those members who do not work in SRA-regulated firms’.

On continuing professional development, CILEx Regulation said: ‘We note that SRA do not propose to take on CRL’s existing mechanisms for routinely auditing CPD records on an annual basis. We believe this represents a significant dilution of the current regulatory arrangements which ensures the public can have confidence in the ongoing competence of those who are regulated.’

Noting that the SRA’s original proposals did not cover regulation of ‘non-authorised’ CILEX members, CILEx Regulation said ‘this gives the impression that the regulation of the non-authorised CILEX members has been an afterthought, and not part of a comprehensive, rational and well-thought-through proposal from the beginning’.

CILEx Regulation said the question of whether it would be lawful for CILEX, the membership body for legal executives, to hand over regulatory powers to the SRA remained unanswered, and its invitation to the LSB and CILEX to clarify the matter through the courts ‘remains open’.

The SRA’s latest consultation closes on 15 May.


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