The regulator for intellectual property attorneys has applied to the Legal Services Board (LSB) seeking permission to enhance its powers by allowing it to suspend individual attorneys from the register.

In an application for approval the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg) says the increased powers would allow it ‘to exercise its enforcement powers more proportionately’.

The application aks for the power to suspend attorneys who commit misconduct such as failing to pay a practising certificate fee or complying with continuing professional development requirements.

IPReg, which regulates patent and trade mark attorneys, can remove attorneys from the register and refer them to a disciplinary panel, but cannot impose temporary suspensions. 

According to IPReg’s application, once an individual registrant is removed from the register, IPReg ‘loses its regulatory locus and accordingly loses any regulatory jurisdiction over the registered person’.

It adds that suspension would have the effect of ’allowing the registrant to remain on the register pending compliance, this would ease the administrative burden on registrants who are removed … by allowing them to remain registered and not put in the position of going through the process of applying for readmission.’ It is suggesting a three-month suspension period.

The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys said they broadly supported the proposals.  The LSB has 28 days from the date of application to approve the proposals or extend the period to 90 days.