Why be regulated by the CLC?
Created in 1985 in order to foster competition in the provision of conveyancing, we still aim to support innovation and growth in the sector we regulate.
Unlike the other legal regulators, the CLC has only ever had an exclusively regulatory function. The CLC’s Code is principles based and outcomes focused. We do not simply police the community that we regulate, we support them in achieving compliance: we want them to thrive.
The CLC currently licenses over 1,200 individuals and 200 entities, respectively accounting in 2011 (the CLC estimates) for about 4% of authorised persons and 5% of all entities in the legal sector. They service 10-15% of the market for conveyancing – transactions with a value of around £11bn-£15bn each year – and 20% of all re-mortgaging activity.
Over 70 licensed conveyancers are now licensed to also provide probate services. A number of CLC entities offer probate as well as conveyancing services and some entities have now been licensed to specialise in probate services alone.
Key points to note about the CLC regime
Specialist regulation of specialist lawyers
Our Code of Conduct and approach to regulation are closely tailored to the property specialisation of those we regulate. This enables us to take a genuinely light touch. In common with other regulators, our focus has moved towards entity regulation away from regulation of the individual and is outcomes-focused, not rules-based.
The fact that CLC-regulated entities are specialists means there is no need for accreditation schemes on top of regulation. Expertise is guaranteed through specialisation of regulation and practice.
The CLC’s Code allows referral fee arrangements subject to absolute transparency with the client from the outset. The requirements are set out in our brief Disclosure of Profits and Advantages Code here: http://bit.ly/1hKUexo
A master policy for professional indemnity insurance is used by the vast majority of CLC-regulated entities. Firms that opt-out are required to demonstrate that the cover they have in place at least matches the provisions of the master policy.
Questions to consider
Existing regulated conveyancing practices should address the following issues before beginning their application to be regulated by the CLC. Applications generally take around eight weeks, subject to any necessary external checks.
Recognised Body or ABS?
Will the new entity that will be regulated by the CLC be owned and include at least one Licensed Conveyancer Manager? If so, you may apply to be regulated as a Recognised Body. If there is no Licensed Conveyancer Manager or there are to be non-lawyer owners or managers, you will need to apply to be regulated as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS).
Becoming a Licensed Conveyancer
A solicitor practising in conveyancing can apply to become a Licensed Conveyancer and can also continue to hold a practising certificate from the SRA.
Do you need run-off cover for your existing practice?
You should discuss PI run-off cover implications with your insurer. If the new, CLC-regulated entity is to be managed by the existing team in the practice that is being transferred and in substantially the same way, it should be possible for insurers to agree to continuity for insurance purposes. You should also discuss your plans with Willis, brokers of the CLC master policy to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the options open to you.
Will the change affect your access to lenders panels?
You should inform lenders of your plans and secure their agreement that you will not be regarded by them as a new entity when you move to CLC regulation. Lenders are generally happy to agree this but it is best to talk to them in advance.
While the CLC accepts sole-practitioner entities, you should note that lenders often will be unwilling to instruct a conveyancing practice that does not have at least two managers who are legally qualified and regulated (Authorised Persons in terms of the Legal Services Act 2007).