Legal executives could be granted powers to set up their own stand-alone firms by next year, if proposals by the Legal Services Board super-regulator are adopted.
In March lord chancellor Chris Grayling gave the green light to allowing members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) to practise independently in probate and conveyancing. The changes are expected to be approved by parliament later this year.
Currently, CILEx members can conduct many reserved legal activities only under the supervision of an authorised person, most commonly a solicitor.
The latest proposals would then allow CILEx members to create separate entities practising in these areas. The proposals would be granted under section 70 of the Legal Services Act 2007 and modify the functions of CILEx through a section 69 order.
Under the changes CILEX’s regulatory powers would be extended to establish compensation arrangements and to grant entity intervention powers to protect clients and consumers in a similar fashion to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
If the LSB decides to recommend the changes to Grayling, they would be subject to parliamentary approval next year.
CILEx also intends to ‘enhance its role as a regulator of legal services’ by establishing a working group on becoming an ABS regulator. However, it has said it first intends to become an approved regulator for members practising independently in other areas of law, including litigation.
A Law Society spokeswoman said: ‘The Legal Services Act allows regulators to regulate in new areas and to become licensing authorities.
‘While we welcome an open market, it is important that the high standards in place for solicitors are maintained to ensure clients are protected.’
This consultation will close on Monday 21 July.