A revised set of ethical principles is at the heart of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) new strategy, the regulator has confirmed.
The strategic plan, for 2023-25, also outlines ambitions to grow the regulated community, including offering an alternative home to solicitors and chartered legal executives specialising in conveyancing and probate.
It also says the specialist regulator will promote the CLC qualification so as to grow the pipeline of new licensed conveyancers.
The strategy says the revised ethical standards should underpin work to further improve service to clients and confidence in the sector.
The biggest change in the list of ethical principles is an entirely new principle requiring licensed conveyancers to ‘”know each customer, treat them fairly, keep their money safe, communicate openly and truthfully, and act in their best interests.”
The need to “communicate openly and truthfully” was added following consultation with the CLC’s Consumer Reference Group and was accepted as a “clearly useful high-level requirement.”
The principle reflects the duty long placed on financial services firms, this was viewed as very important at workshops held by the CLC because it underpins the effective practice of conveyancing and probate so fundamentally.
A further change on the Consumer Reference Group’s recommendation was to the principle on diversity and inclusion to ensure it extends to clients and does not apply solely to the workplace.
As well as establishing the new principles, the CLC will use them to underpin an upcoming review of its code of conduct.
The consultation on the strategy found strong support for the overriding themes of:
- Promoting quality in legal services
- Exploiting the CLC’s unique approach, insight and relationship with the regulated community to further improve consumer protection
- Benefitting clients by reducing the CLC’s share of the unit cost of regulation (the costs of the OLC, LSB are outside the CLC’s control) and bringing its specialist regulation of conveyancing and probate to bear on a larger part of the market
The CLC’s underlying philosophy is that specialist conveyancing and probate lawyers, and their clients, benefit from working with a regulator dedicated solely to their areas of work, as well as one committed to assisted compliance – in which it seeks to collaborate with those it oversees to achieve compliance, rather than wield the stick where not warranted.
There has been a steady trickle of solicitors and chartered legal executives moving over to CLC regulation in recent times.
The strategy commits the CLC to promoting all aspects of improvement in the practice of conveyancing and probate – whether legislative, process change or IT-driven – to enhance client outcomes. Indeed, the CLC will “explore ways to help the regulated community have greater confidence about change and make faster progress.”
It has led the way in encouraging IT adoption among conveyancers and will continue to ensure that the regulatory environment supports innovation in the consumer interest.
Dame Janet Paraskeva, chair of the board of the CLC, says:
“The CLC’s clear focus is on the needs of clients and the public, and we are confident that as a forward-looking regulator that encourages those it regulates to innovate in how they work, within clear ethical boundaries, it protects and promotes the client and public interest.
The CLC enters this new strategy period in good heart, boosted by strong engagement with our regulated community and interest from other lawyers in the benefits of working with a regulator that truly understands their work and day-to-day pressures.
It is important to review the profession’s standards regularly to ensure they are keeping up with the challenges of the times and we are satisfied as a Council that the new ethical principles do this.”