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2015

CLC reacts to Chancellor's Announcements on Legal Services

30 November 2015

The Chancellor announced today that in 2016 the Treasury will be consulting on

  • Removing barriers to entry for Alternative Business Structures
  • Making legal services regulators independent from their representative bodies and
  • Injecting innovation into the process of home buying

Responding to the announcements Sheila Kumar, Chief Executive of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers said: 'Simplifying the regime around Alternative Business Structures is a good modernising measure. We have seen that fears raised at the time of the Legal Services Act that they would erode ethical standards in the provision of legal services were wholly unfounded. As expected though, ABS firms are innovative and are finding new ways to deliver high quality services. As the first legal services regulator to licence an ABS, and having regulated similar structures prior to LSA 2007, we welcome the Chancellor’s announcement and indeed we have already been working to simplify our own approach to licensing of ABS and traditional firms.'

'We are also pleased that there is to be consultation on making regulators independent of representative bodies. We have pressed for this to be an area of focus for some time because it will speed realisation of the benefits promised by the Act and bring improvements for consumers and those running legal services businesses.

'We also look forward to taking part in work to foster innovation in the home buying process in any way that we can as the specialist regulator of conveyancing services.'

 

Details of today's announcements by the Treasury 

Press release 

Command Paper 

 

Dame Janet Paraskeva sparks debate on PII, Lenders Panels and calls for genuine choice of regulator

19 November 2015

  • PII and run-off requirements seen to be inhibiting firms’ choice of regulator
  • Lenders panels could be anti-competitive and a barrier to market access
  • Incomplete separation of representative and regulatory bodies muddying regulation

Dame Janet Paraskeva, the new Chair of the specialist property law regulator, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), highlighted some strategic challenges for regulators of legal services when she spoke on Wednesday 18th November at the annual conference of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers.

Dame Janet called for the full implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 to afford law firms a genuine free choice of the regulator best suited to the long-term development of their businesses, citing the current operation of professional indemnity insurance as a barrier to that free choice. She also called for the complete separation of representation and regulation in the legal sector to ensure clarity and transparency in regulation.

Dame Janet promised that the CLC’s 2016 review of all of its regulatory arrangements would examine every aspect of the CLC’s approach, from the code of conduct to the Compensation Fund. The objective of that will be to ensure that the CLC can continue to support innovation and growth in the legal sector for the benefit of the consumer and to support the growth of thriving legal businesses.

Dame Janet said: “After nearly ten years away from the legal sector I was surprised to find how little had apparently changed and how the freedoms promised by the Legal Services Act have yet to be fully explored and exploited by law firms to find new ways to meet consumer expectation and fuel growth of legal businesses. While there is a clear will now, it seems that front line regulators in the legal sector have not been able to cooperate to the degree necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the market. We are also looking to work with financial services regulators and the Competition and Markets Authority.”  

Sheila Kumar, Chief Executive of the CLC said: “The regular review of the CLC’s Handbook and financial protection arrangements taking place in 2016 will be thorough and fundamental. As well as ensuring effective consumer protection in a contemporary context, the reforms we make will aim to continue our mission to foster innovation and competition in the provision of conveyancing and probate services. It will take forward our work over the past three years in which we have made major changes to our structures and processes to deliver our work more efficiently and in ways that take into account the changing legal services market and the business models of CLC regulated firms. The 2016 review is the next step in delivering the CLC’s strategy to exploit to the full the benefits of specialised, activity-based regulation of specialist property law services which provides an alternative and contemporary model of regulation.”

Deadline passed for Licence Renewal

01 November 2015

The new licence year has begun in November 1st, 2015. 

 

 

Changes in CLC Education

06 October 2015

Council for Licensed Conveyancers and Scottish Qualifications Authority announce strategic partnership in legal education

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), the specialist property law regulator, and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), an Ofqual recognised awarding body, have today announced a partnership for the delivery of a suite of qualifications, enabling those who achieve them to be licensed as a CLC lawyer specialising in conveyancing or probate in England and Wales.

Now that the partnership has been agreed, CLC and SQA are working together on the transitional arrangements, which will see SQA develop, assess and quality assure the qualifications to industry standards, with CLC's expertise and guidance. There will be announcements early in the new year about the new arrangements and how these will affect students.

Students currently taking the qualifications should continue with them and work towards their exams. The qualifications will continue to be valid under the new arrangements.

Sheila Kumar, Chief Executive of the CLC said: “We are delighted to be working with SQA in this exciting partnership that will open new routes to qualifications as a CLC lawyer and help to ensure that the pipeline of qualified conveyancers and probate practitioners continues to grow to meet demand in the market place. It will bring a much improved student experience through the use of the most up to date educational tools and approaches developed by a range of providers and give students even greater flexibility. Importantly, the CLC will work with SQA to assure the high standards of these specialist qualifications for which the profession is known. Current students can take comfort that their achievements will all be valid under the new arrangements and they should carry on with their current courses. We will be announcing transition arrangements next year.”

Dr Janet Brown, Chief Executive of SQA said: "We look forward to working with CLC to deliver a suite of qualifications for the conveyancing and probate sectors of the legal profession. SQA is committed to helping people to realise their potential and to achieve their ambitions by providing a wide range of high quality, recognised qualifications and associated services. We work with employers and industry to ensure that SQA qualifications accurately reflect learners’ knowledge and skills and provide routes to jobs or further study as well as enable organisations to succeed in meeting a wide range of educational and workforce development challenges."

New Guidance: Alternative Dispute Resolution for Complaints

16 September 2015

The CLC has issued guidance and draft amendments to the Complaints Code to help CLC Lawyers to comply with the requirements of the EU Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution. 

Find out more 

Apprenticeship Standards in Conveyancing and Probate ready to roll

03 September 2015

  • New apprenticeship standards in conveyancing and probate published following approval by the Department for Business, Industry and Skills
  • Developed by practitioners with the support of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers
  • Assessment bodies going through approval process so that apprenticeships can begin

Innovative apprenticeship standards creating accessible new pathways to recognition for legal professionals have been approved by government.

The apprenticeships have been developed by specialist conveyancing and probate practitioners with the support of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and, in the case of probate standard, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). The standards are part of the Government’s Trailblazer scheme and employers of apprentices will be able to apply for assistance with the cost of apprenticeships. These apprenticeships will help to meet the still growing demand for appropriately skilled and experienced specialist lawyers so that conveyancing and probate practices can grow their businesses with confidence.

Upon successful completion of the conveyancing apprenticeship, apprentices will be eligible to apply for licence by the CLC as a Licensed Conveyancer. Licensed Conveyancers are Authorised Persons under the Legal Services Act 2007 so this new apprenticeship opens up access to the legal profession to much broader sections of the population.  Other new apprenticeships create routes to recognition as a Conveyancing Technician or Probate Technician that will not lead to licence as an Authorised Person but will be proof of achievement of expertise in specialist areas of property law that will be valuable to employers and act as a stepping stone to further attainment.

Nick Boles MP, Minister of State jointly for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education said: “Businesses are better placed than anyone to train the next generation of workers and will help us deliver 3 million high-quality apprenticeships by 2020. By designing apprenticeships, employers like Conveyancing Direct are ensuring that young talented people develop the skills needed to progress up the career ladder and help drive businesses forward.”

Chief Executive of the CLC Sheila Kumar said: “The CLC was established to introduce innovation and competition into the legal sector and thirty years on these apprenticeships show that we continue to deliver on that mission. The apprenticeship route to licence as a specialist conveyancer will further broaden access to the legal profession and, along with the Conveyancing Technician and Probate Technician apprenticeships, provide a more robust pipeline of experts to support the growth that we see in CLC-regulated businesses. As the standards have been developed by practitioners working with the CLC as a regulator and STEP as a professional body in relation to the Probate Standard, we can be sure the apprenticeships meet the needs of contemporary practices as well as complying with regulation providing consumer protection. We hope that many employers will put existing staff and new hires through these apprenticeships.

David Harvey, CEO of STEP, said: “STEP has always considered itself a multi-disciplinary professional body welcoming and bringing together all professions involved in estates practice. With the successful launch of the Probate Apprenticeship we hope to enhance that diversity and to attract younger entrants into what is a very rewarding area of skilled work and one which demands a high level of knowledge and skill. This is an important move forward, and no more so than for the consumer.”

Andrea Pierce of Kings Court Trust and chair of the consortium that developed the Probate Apprenticeship Standard said: “Kings Court Trust was delighted to be involved throughout a process that should equip the next generation of estate administration and probate specialists with the skills they need to succeed in this sector.  I am confident that the apprenticeships framework will help the industry to continue to deliver the highest quality of service to families at their time of need.”

Michelle Timms of Conveyancing Direct and chair of the consortium that developed the Conveyancing Apprenticeship Standards said “The conveyancing industry is one that, in comparison to other legal services, is not particularly well known. I believe it is for this reason that employers such as Conveyancing Direct are choosing to promote from within and ‘grow their own’ conveyancers. The apprenticeships for both a Conveyancing Technician and a Licensed Conveyancer open up brand new opportunities for employers to ensure that their staff are trained  to a high standard, that a consistent level of training and quality assurance is given across the whole industry and to make people more aware of the prospects of becoming a conveyancer. I am delighted to represent the conveyancing industry and work alongside some reputable conveyancing firms to design the new apprenticeships. Getting the assessment plans published is the next big step towards the apprenticeships being ready for delivery and I’m confident that everyone will agree that the submitted plans offer robust assessment of the apprentices and that the methods of delivery are compatible with many different business structures.”

Notes for editors

The Conveyancing and Estate Administration Apprenticeship Consortia of practitioners were supported by the CLC to develop those standards which have now been approved by the Department for Business, Industry and Skills. STEP took part in the development of the probate standard.

The Conveyancing Technician and Licensed Conveyancer Apprenticeship Standards are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-standard-licensed-conveyancer and these standards are ready to use.

The Probate Technician Standard is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-standard-probate-technician This standard will be ready to use once assessment plan has been finalised.

Potential apprenticeship providers and assessors are currently going through an accreditation process and apprenticeships will begin after those providers and assessors are appointed.

The CLC will soon begin issuing stand-alone licences to Probate Practitioners, having secured that new power through the Deregulation Bill 2015 with the support of Cabinet Office and MoJ Ministers and Labour spokespeople.  An apprenticeship route to licence as a CLC Probate Practitioner will be developed if there is sufficient employer demand. 

August Newsletter Published

28 August 2015

Read the CLC's latest newsletter full of vital updates for conveyancers, including tackling cyber-crime threats to clients and businesses. 

August 2015 Newsletter 

 

 

CLC holds fees steady for third year

24 August 2015

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers has today announced that it is freezing regulatory fees for the next year. This will be the third year for which fees have been set at the same level. Individual licences are fixed at £400 while entity fees are calculated based on a firm’s turnover.

The CLC has been streamlining the way it meets its core responsibility of consumer protection through specialist regulation of specialist property lawyers. It recently secured the power to issue stand-alone licences to probate practitioners and will soon be announcing major changes to arrangements for education leading to licence as a CLC Lawyer, whether Licensed Conveyancer or Probate Practitioner. The CLC is also putting the finishing touches to a major staff reorganisation that will deliver improved performance and customer service through a tighter staff team which is now located in London in offices that provide easier access for stakeholders and an improved, open plan working environment that fosters closer coordination.

Chief Executive of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, Sheila Kumar said: “At the CLC we are working hard to ensure that our model of specialist regulation of specialist property lawyers delivers all of the benefits it possibly can to the consumer as well as to individual lawyers and the legal businesses that we regulate.  Through improved infrastructure and changed staffing arrangements, we will be able to offer an improved service to the regulated community and others with whom we work closely. The new teams are reviewing the way we work with a view to making large or small changes that will improve efficiency and effectiveness and so the value for money of our operations. I am very pleased that we have been able to make these improvements without increasing the burden on the profession.” 

Licence Renewal 2015

Regulatory Return 2014/2015

14 July 2015

All CLC-regulated practices have until Friday 31st July to complete the CLC's Regulatory Return 2014/2015. 

We have written with full details to the preferred contacts of each practice. 

Find out more

CLC Consultation Adjudication Panel Rules 2015 Analysis of Responses

30 June 2015

Between May 2015 and June 2015 we consulted on proposed amendments to the Adjudication Panel Rules. The CLC received 2 completed responses. This document sets out the findings of that consultation exercise.  Whilst the response rate is disappointing, it does, perhaps, reflect the fact that the amendments proposed are not seen as particularly controversial: