The Legal Services Board last month approved a number of applications from ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) that mean chartered legal executives will be able to practise litigation and related rights of audience independently.
The Board also approved new rules for regulating immigration advisers. The super-regulator had already approved in December an application by IPS to regulate independent probate and conveyancing practice rights.
IPS and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives said in a statement that the LSB’s approval “recognises the parity between CILEx members and other legal professionals, as well as IPS’s capability to regulate new areas”.
The two organisations said 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 required no further approval.
IPS said it expected 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.”
It added that it would be able to start authorising legal practices offering litigation and immigration services when Parliament had granted powers to set up a compensation fund and to intervene in practices.
The LSB has said it would approve IPS’s rules for establishing a compensation fund once Parliament had awarded the relevant powers.
Ian Watson, IPS CEO, said: “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.
CILEx CEO Diane Burleigh 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.”
IPS said it would apply in due course for CILEx to be able to license alternative business structures managed or owned by non-lawyers. This application will also need LSB approval.