The following areas were discussed:
- Future Regulatory Arrangements: The Board considered carefully the consultation documents published by CILEX and the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We agreed that there are lots of weaknesses and gaps in the proposals, and that together they provided insufficient detail, clarity or evidence to enable respondents to make an informed response. For instance, there is no detail on how the 9000 “paralegals” currently subject to independent regulation by CRL would be regulated in future. It also appears that CILEX professionals would no longer have any role in the governance of their regulator, nor is there any commitment to help CILEX members and others set up companies as we have proposed.
- Against this background we thought it would be helpful to give an early statement of our views, which we will do in the next few days. We will also hold a webinar on Monday 2 October at 13.00, and would encourage all CILEX members to attend and to express their views on the proposals put forward by CILEX and the SRA
- Practising Certificate Fee: The Board considered the feedback from our consultation on next year’s PCF and is grateful to all who responded. We noted the wide support for the proposal made by CILEX and ourselves to hold the PCF at its current level notwithstanding significant inflationary pressures. We will therefore be formally submitting this to the Legal Services Board for its approval.
- Financial Performance: we reviewed our financial performance for the first seven months of 2023 and were pleased to see overall a strong operating performance ahead of target. We agreed to publish our annual statement of the costs of regulation so that those who pay regulatory fees and others can have maximum transparency on both our income and expenditure.
- Operations: we received our regular reports on performance and were pleased to see continued improvement across the board. For instance, on CPD whereas in 2022 there were nearly 3000 members non-compliant around this time, this year there were only 800, a reduction of over 70%. We also agreed our annual report on Anti Money Laundering activities.
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: the Board is hugely committed to championing fair access for all in the legal market, and had before it a series of detailed reports on progress made since we published our first Strategy last year. In particular we were pleased to see continued improvement in the quality of the diversity of data we hold and will publish this analysis in the next few weeks.
After the Board, colleagues and I met staff to thank them for all the hard work to date, and talk through their concerns in the face of ongoing uncertainty.
Our next planned Board catch-up is on 17 October 2023 with our next full meeting on 16 November 2023. As always, if you want to know more, please look at our website, read our Board papers or get in touch.
Access all board meeting documents on the CRL website
CILEX consultation: Enhancing consumer trust and confidence – closes 5 November 2023