CILEx Regulation the year in review

CILEx Regulation the year in review

30 November 2016

Helen Whiteman, chief executive of CILEx Regulation says:

This year has been both challenging and rewarding for CILEx Regulation.  We have continued to focus on improving our customer service levels to our regulated community and consumers. This has resulted in new online resources for work-based learning, CPD compliance and practitioner authorisation.  We have seen huge improvements in both the quality of the applications being submitted for authorisation, which has helped us to reduce our processing times and increase our capacity to respond to increasing numbers of applications.  

Following the success of last year’s practice rights roadshows, more of you are pursuing independent practice and considering setting up business with us.  While the political landscape has changed following Brexit, there remains a demand for legal services and we have been encouraged to hear from you with your proposals for meeting that need head on.  Yes, there are standards that must be met and the necessary safeguards in place for consumers, but if you have the determination to succeed both we and CILEx will support you every step of the way.     In the words of our new Lord Chancellor, the law should be seen as an ‘attractive and prestigious career by every possible person from every possible background’.  You have a lot to offer!

We have been leading a collaborative workstream with other regulators on consumer engagement.  This has led to jointly commissioned research into the effectiveness of client care letters (see also page 38 of this issue).  While the findings were unsurprising, it shows that firms can make simple changes to improve the overall client experience.  We would also encourage the non-regulatory bodies to review their guidance and, where appropriate, update it to reflect current best practice.

Our oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board (LSB), assesses our performance on an annual basis. This year we took the additional step of engaging an independent reviewer to help us to benchmark our performance more widely across the professional services sector.  We were the only regulator to receive a ‘good’ (the highest score) for our enforcement function, which was really pleasing.  We are delivering against an action plan to develop performance across all our regulatory functions, and in some areas working jointly with colleagues from the Legal Regulator’s Forum.  

So, what is in the stocking for 2017? We should be in receipt of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) report, and we have all been on tenterhooks for the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ’s) regulatory separation consultation. Whether that materialises or not, our Board has agreed to work with CILEx on whatever may come our way, particularly as we are already operating on an independent basis to a large extent.  The challenge, perhaps, will be the formulation of any transitional plan which allows us to achieve full financial separation. Our primary focus is to reduce the cost of regulation to you. 

The assessment team is preparing to introduce a new online portfolio system that will improve the way in which you are able to provide material to us. Further details to follow!

I hope that the high levels of engagement we achieve with you, both in traditional forms and through social media, will continue to grow.  We look forward to delivering regulatory services to you next year. I thank all my colleagues at CILEx Regulation - as well as our Board - for their hard work this past year, and we extend the very best season’s greetings to you all.