The Legal Services Board (LSB) is the oversight regulator for legal service approved regulators under the Legal Services Act 2007. The LSB has nine approved regulators to include the SRA for Solicitors, The Bar Standards Board for Barristers, CILEx for legal executives and six others.
Paralegals who work in the unregulated legal services sector, that is those working outside of regulated entities such as Solicitors’ firms, are currently not regulated by the Legal Services Board however there are some groups of paralegals that are subject to statutory regulation under the Legal Services Board.
Paralegals Working for Solicitors
Paralegals that are an employee within a Solicitors firm are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
These paralegals are also potentially subject to punishment by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and potentially sanction by the court (because their solicitor employers are Officers of the Court).
In reality the SRA rarely pays attention to paralegals working for solicitors (either in firms or in-house) unless they are guilty of some serious misconduct. This is because they are meant to be supervised by a solicitor at all times and thus, usually, the SRA looks to the solicitor when problems occur.
Paralegals Providing Immigration Advice/Assistance
With one exception, all paralegals providing such advice/assistance must be registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. The OISC has quite an active regulatory regime. The exception is paralegals who work for a solicitors’ firm or other entity which is exempted from the need to register.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) regulates those conveyancers who are not solicitors or working for a solicitor, but instead are specialists, trained only in conveyancing.
Financial Services Related Work
Giving most types of financial advice (including mortgage and insurance related advice) is governed by the regulatory/registration scheme established under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Regulation responsibilities are split between two new agencies: the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority of the Bank of England.
In giving legal advice Paralegals may sometimes have to carry on such “regulated activities” in the course of other work such as conveyancing, corporate, matrimonial, probate and trust work.
If so, Paralegals need either to be regulated or to work for an organisation (e.g. a solicitors’ firm) exempted from registration/regulation under Part III (which makes provision for approved professional firms which do not carry on mainstream investment business but which may carry on regulated activities).
Paralegals Providing Services Regulated by the Compensation Act 2006
The Claims Management Regulator was a unit of the Ministry of Justice that regulated companies providing claims management services to England and Wales. Its regulatory responsibilities passed to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on 1st April 2019.
The FCA host the list of businesses authorised to provide regulated claims management.
For a list of authorised claims management companies (CMCs) check a claims company’s registration.
Paralegals Acting as Accredited Police Station Representatives
People arrested and held at police stations generally have the right to receive legal advice and assistance whilst in custody.
There are duty solicitor schemes providing this service. They are paid for by the Legal Services Commission under the legal aid scheme. Originally the idea was to have solicitors attend the police stations to give advice. However, the rates of pay are very low and so increasingly (especially outside of office hours) solicitors’ firms use accredited paralegal police station representatives.
To become an accredited police station representative, paralegals must undergo a training and mentoring programme and receive approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
We describe this as a quasi-regulatory situation because a paralegal does not need to be an accredited police station representative to go and advise clients. However, if the instructing solicitors’ firm wants to be paid under the legal aid scheme for providing that service then they must use an accredited police station representative.