If there’s one thing the legal market is not short of, it’s regulators. There are now 10 overseen by the Legal Services Board, and the largest ones – such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority – regulate lawyers undertaking the full range of legal work.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has previously explored widening the scope of its regulation to encompass activities other than conveyancing and probate, which is what we regulate at the moment. But in discussing our strategy for the next four years, we decided that there were enough generalist regulators already – we decided we would be better off focusing on our existing strengths and becoming the regulator of choice for property lawyers.
Most importantly, this was what conveyancers told us they valued. Licensed conveyancers, and indeed a growing number of solicitors, see a real benefit in having regulation tailored to their own areas of practice.
And we do what we do very well – the Legal Services Board’s most recent assessment of all the legal regulators scored the CLC highest. 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.
Also, with new rules in place to make it easier for law firms regulated by one regulator to switch to another, we think there is an important role for a specialist as an alternative to those generalists.
So our plan is to spend the next four years developing an 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.
By 2022, 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.
Our vision is that 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.
Another key goal is empowering consumers to make informed choices of conveyancing and probate lawyers. In late 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority found that a lack of transparency over price and quality made it difficult for consumers to shop around and charged with regulators with improving the situation.
The CLC is currently consulting on its plan to do this. Our 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.
The best thing is that we are coming from a strong base of confidence in the work of the CLC. The strategy for the next four years builds on the hard work of recent times and will benefit those we regulate and, more importantly still, those they serve.