The regulator for legal executives has joined the cohort of groups with power to grant alternative business structure licences.

Lord Chancellor David Gauke confirmed today his decision to make an order designating the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives as a licensing authority for reserved legal activities.

The order extends to granting entities the exercise of a right of audience, the conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities, probate activities, and the administration of oaths.

In effect, it means CILEx members can set up their own businesses with non-lawyer ownership and investment, adding more regulatory competition for the likes of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. It may also mean legal executives employed by solicitors are more inclined to operate independently under their own regulator.

The Legal Services Board, the oversight regulator, recommended last month that Gauke make the order to add CILEx as a licensing authority. The order will now be laid in parliament.

When the application was made last September, CILEx said its research showed a third of members were positive about operating outside of a law firm and, of those, almost half were positive about operating as an ABS. Members were particularly interested in bringing non-lawyer specialists – such as a finance or marketing expert – into the ownership of their business so that they could conduct reserved legal work.

‘We believe that greater diversity of opportunity within the legal market can assist in developing consumer choice and finding better ways to deliver better services,’ said the CILEx application.

In a joint statement, CILEx president Millie Grant and CILEx Regulation chair Sam Younger said: ‘We see this application as integral to the opportunities developed for CILEx members in recent years. We believe that by widening the choice of legal providers for consumers, as well as the choice of regulator for legal professionals seeking to run their own firm, we are helping to encourage competition within the legal services market.’