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Chair’s Report from Dame Janet Paraskeva
The Council met in informal, workshop mode in October to start the process of planning for 2024 and beyond by looking at how we can do more to drive out the benefits of specialist regulation and what the CLC can do to hasten the transformation of conveyancing in the interests of consumers and the public. I will have more to say on that following our first formal meeting of 2024 when we will sign off on those plans.
The latest formal meeting of the CLC’s governing Council, on 26th October had a strong focus on reporting on the work of the CLC. Each meeting reviews key indicators of progress against the business plan and the standard-setting, monitoring and compliance, discipline and enforcement activities of the CLC. We also publish quarterly updates on key metrics. You can find the report on the third quarter of 2023 here.
Council Members were able to discuss with the Chair of the Adjudication Panel her written report on the work of the independent Panel in 2022-23.
As Victoria writes in her report, it was ‘a very busy and effective year for the Panel, where the importance of upholding the professional standards set by the CLC has been paramount and underlined by the decisions reached by the Panel. The imposition of sanctions and costs has been significant, and has drawn attention from the profession generally, which is an important part of continuing to uphold and enforce standards.’
The decisions of the Panel are instructive, and I note that they attract attention when they are published in the CLC’s newsletter. The CLC published a report in July setting out the full compliance journey and we will update this in for the end of the year in our next Annual Report, which will be published in January.
We also had a very useful session with former Council Member Teresa Perchard. Teresa is a consumer affairs expert and chairs the CLC’s Consumer Reference Group.
The CRG has met three times since it was established in Autumn 2022 as follows:
Teresa was appointed for an initial twelve-month period as chair. The Council was pleased to extend that appointment for two years given the value of the work that the CRG has done with her as Chair.
Because of her consumer affairs background, Teresa is also the CLC’s representative on the Challenge and Advisory Group of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC). This is a group that we urged the OLC to establish to assist in its work to reduce the backlog of complaints and improve its processes and, we hope, to reduce its costs.
Teresa provided Council with a helpful update on the insight into progress at the OLC that she has gained from that role. That insight will be helpful as we prepare a response to the OLC’s consultation on its new strategy and business plan. I expect that the representative bodies for Licensed Conveyancers and Licensed Probate Practitioners will also respond to that consultation, and I would recommend that anyone engaged in handling complaints from clients should consider taking part.
The governing Council of the CLC sets the strategic direction of the regulator, ensuring that the organisation meets the statutory Regulatory Objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007.
(a) protecting and promoting the public interest;
(b) supporting the constitutional principle of the rule of law;
(c) improving access to justice;
(d) protecting and promoting the interests of consumers;
(e) promoting competition in the provision of services within subsection (2);
(f) encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession;
(g) increasing public understanding of the citizen’s legal rights and duties;
(h) promoting and maintaining adherence to the professional principles.
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 has recently introduced a new Regulatory Objective:
The Council provides assurance that the CLC is meeting those objectives by holding the executive to account for the organisation’s work and use of resources. The Council’s formal quarterly meetings do that very effectively. The formal process is hugely supported by detailed weekly updates from the Chief Executive that not only report on the work of the CLC but also include horizon-scanning of developments in the legal sector, the practice of conveyancing and probate, and developments in the economy and housing market.
We will report on the work of the CLC in 2023 at our AGM that is planned for 1st February 2024. Save the date and keep an eye out for more details soon.