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24 January, 2018
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has set out its ambition to be the regulator of choice for all property lawyers, meaning those it regulates take an ever-larger share of the conveyancing market.
The CLC has previously explored widening the scope of its regulation to encompass activities other than conveyancing and probate, but – publishing its strategy for 2018 to 2022 today – the CLC has decided to focus on its existing strengths.
This was based on what conveyancers told the CLC they valued, the fact that there is no market demand for another generalist regulator, and because the CLC’s specialism is a great source of strength and appeal. The Legal Services Board’s most recent assessment of all the legal regulators scored the CLC highest.
CLC Chair Dame Janet Paraskeva said: “We decided that there is an important role in the legal market for a specialist regulator as an alternative to the generalist regulators. Our research has found that licensed conveyancers, and indeed a growing number of solicitors, see a real benefit in having regulation tailored to their own areas of practice.”
The strategy says that, by 2022, “the CLC will benefit from even deeper insight into the specialist practice of conveyancing and probate thanks to increased policy input from practitioners, our own research, analysis of the impact of our policies and operations and intelligence received as we progress.
“We will have evolved approaches to monitoring compliance that deliver common standards whilst accommodating diverse business models. This will mean that we will be viewed as an even more effective regulator delivering evidence-driven, risk-based regulation…
“Lenders and government agencies will view the CLC as a valued partner in maintaining the integrity of the property market and combating fraud, and legal tech providers will want to work with us to develop new tools for the sector.”
The strategy lays out indicators of success. These are that firms agree that being regulated by the CLC is either ‘extremely’ or ‘mostly’ beneficial to their business (currently over 75% say that), and that the share of the conveyancing market (in terms of numbers of transactions) under CLC regulation continues to grow.
There are two other two strands of the strategy: empowering consumers to make informed choices of conveyancing and probate lawyers; and adapting regulation to the changing market.
On transparency, the CLC is currently consulting on its action plan in response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations on information remedies in legal services. The intention is to lead the development of best practice in this area and that, as a result, the CLC firms with the best ratings from consumers will increase their transaction volumes.
On the changing market, one indicator of success is that no regulatory failures will arise as a result of new technological innovations or business models – talks the CLC has had indicate that there is a lot of activity building that could disrupt the conveyancing market and potentially take some work outside the regulatory regime, which would reduce consumer protection. The CLC is determined that any such development is avoided.
CLC chief executive Sheila Kumar said: “There is already a lot of confidence in the work of the CLC, whether from lenders, the Legal Services Board, those we regulate or others we deal with.
“Our approach is built on our close working with the firms we regulate and knowledge of them. They know that we want to help them address difficulties before they become a serious risk to clients.
“The strategy for the next four years builds on the hard work of the last three years – during which time we have made substantial changes to the way the CLC operates – and will benefit those we regulate and, more importantly still, those they serve.”