24th July 2017
We have had queries regarding video publications made by NALP inferring that the PPR values have changed, and it has become incumbent on me to answer those queries.
The PPR was set up by NALP and IoP as a direct response to recommendations made by the LETR that a regulator should come forward for the unregulated sector.
Both organisations committed to developing such a voluntary regulatory scheme for the benefit of the sector and for greater consumer protection. These values set up by NALP and IoP remain unchanged.
The NALP were present and active at the PPR Conference on 22nd June and our values have not changed since that date, when one can assume that NALP agreed with our values. We are unable to comment further on what NALP believe is a change in our values as they have declined to provide any clarification.
The success of the PPR is dependant on the vetting of membership bodies to ensure that they meet the required standard in ensuring their application processes reflect good practice and that they have a sound, fair and reasonable complaints procedure to handle Tier 1 and 2 complaints prior to being finally reviewed and adjudicated by an independent regulator where required. These values remain unchanged.
For accountability and credibility, it is vital that the sector has an independent regulatory scheme. The IoP previously issued ‘Practising Certificates’ which was wholly inappropriate, as a membership body should not act as a regulator during the final outcome of a complaints process. The IoP withdrew their practising certificates and embraced the new regulatory regime and now has a high number of IoP members registered or regulated by the PPR. The IoP remain committed to the PPR as removal would be a great detriment to their members and to the sector as a whole.
The NALP maintained its ‘Licensed’ Paralegals, very small in number, assuring the PPR that this was a ‘Membership Level’ only, as there was no substance behind it and not an actual licence to practise. Unfortunately, the NALP decided to maintain its ‘Licensed’ Paralegal status which the PPR felt was confusing for the consumer, and therefore in this context, the NALP did not embrace the new regulatory regime to the same extent as the IoP.
The PPR values have not changed and we firmly believe as do our supporters from the Legal Ombudsman’s office that independent regulation is vital.
The PPR is shocked and saddened by the actions of NALP in deciding to promote a Licensing Scheme with no discussion with the PPR or any other of the key legal stakeholders. We do not believe that this is in the best interests of the sector or consumers.
We would expect any of our Recognised Bodies to consult their members before withdrawal from the PPR so that we can ensure that they can be accommodated without unnecessary detriment being caused. We will be seeking to include this in our rules going forwards.
The PPR is a voluntary Regulator and not a membership body and it spent almost two years consulting with key stakeholders before it was robust enough to offer the credibility and accountability that a regulator should do.
There are many membership bodies offering self-regulation with no substance behind them and no real redress for consumers. This is what NALP and the IoP have fought against. It would appear that perhaps NALP’s values have changed and not the PPR’s.
We do not recognise any membership body’s self-regulation certificates or licences as this would be a bleak step backwards for the sector and for consumer protection.
The PPR remains focused on what is right and will continue to support the sector to promote its members as the Fourth Arm of the Legal Profession.
Regulation for Paralegals is voluntary and we would advise all Paralegals who choose to be regulated to choose wisely.