9 February, 2015
Government Ministers have accepted the purpose of amendments tabled by Baroness Hayter at Lords Report Stage of the Deregulation Bill. They undertook to bring their back their own versions of those amendments to achieve the same outcomes at Third Reading, given some changes to technical aspects of the wording of the amendments.
Unlike other regulators in the legal sector, the CLC was created in statute and many of its powers are therefore set out in statute. Many changes to how it regulates can usually only be achieved through changes to legislation rather than regulatory rules, as is the case for other legal regulators.
The chief purpose of the amendments is to enable the CLC to issue licences to individual probate practitioners and specialist probate firms without requiring them to first be qualified as Licensed Conveyancers. They will also enable the CLC continue to licence probate practices at the end of the Legal services Act 2007 transitional period. There are also some changes to help align the treatment of ABS and traditional firms and to rationalise the process for appeals against decisions of the CLC’s Disciplinary and Appeals Committee.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Legal Services Board have long supported the intention of these amendments and there has been work by the MoJ for over two years to attempt to achieve them through secondary legislation under the Legal Services Act. The introduction by Baroness Hayter of her amendments will achieve the same purpose more quickly and with more legal certainty.
Chief Executive of the CLC, Sheila Kumar said: ‘We are delighted that Ministers have accepted that changes to our statutory framework can be secured through the Deregulation Bill. It seems a nonsense, and anti-competitive, to require a probate practitioner wishing to be regulated by the CLC also to qualify as a Licensed Conveyancer. Having a service base to regulation is not new but it is clearly to nobody’s benefit to have to qualify and achieve a licence in an area that one has no desire to practise. As well as the anti- competitive nature of this barrier to entry, it also stunts growth and cuts access to potential clients as well as imposing an unnecessary regulatory burden on the practitioner.
‘The Deregulation Bill gives us the mechanism to achieve changes which have long been supported by the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Services Board. I am very grateful to Baroness Hayter for her work to secure this outcome. We will work with Ministry of Justice and Cabinet Office officials to finalise the wording of the amendments for Third Reading in the Lords so that we can secure the changes ahead of the dissolution of Parliament. The specialist regulation of specialist property law practitioners in conveyancing and probate is our strength and these changes will support our sharper focus for the benefit of clients and lawyers.’