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CLC: ‘We are not a light-touch regulator’

The chair of the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has warned firms that it shouldn’t be seen as a ‘light-touch’ regulator.

Speaking at the Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) annual conference in Derby last week, Dame Janet Paraskeva said the industry watchdog wants to help firms with compliance issues but is not afraid to take disciplinary action where needed.

She said resorting to disciplinary action is a symptom of regulatory failure but “assisted compliance” is not the easy option.


Dame Janet described assisted compliance – a collaborative approach to achieving compliance – as “a unique strength of the CLC model”.

She added: “We can also describe that as helping you deal with issues before they become a real problem or cause actual harm to the client or public interest. We want to avoid as far as possible having to impose disciplinary sanctions. That is a symptom of failure of the process of client protection and our assisted compliance approach.”

The low number of disciplinary cases against licensed conveyancers should not be misunderstood as the CLC being a light-touch regulator, Dame Janet cautioned.

She said: “Of course, if there is persistent non-compliance or actual harm occurs, then we have to move to our disciplinary tools. Our approach to regulation is intensive, involving as it does very close monitoring of the regulated community and working closely with them to achieve compliance.”

Co-operation is also needed, shee said, with the Legal Ombudsman (LeO), whose costs were described as “eye-wateringly high” – last year.

The charge to the CLC-regulated community was £655,000, even though only around 300 complaints reached it.

Dame Janet said: “We have been working hard to persuade LeO to take steps to reduce its costs. We are delighted that its pilot of ‘early resolution’ of complaints that look appropriate for settlement without investigation is being so successful.

“In some cases, complainants are told that their complaint has no merit or the offer from the firm is reasonable. In others, LeO recommends that the firm improve its offer slightly. This kind of quick action is a great approach and is how the LeO scheme was intended to operate.

“But it does need firms to cooperate with it. I am sorry that we see examples of a very small number of firms not engaging effectively or at all with the process. This is not in their interests as it will likely mean that resolving the complaint will end up costing more time and money than it needs to.”

Dame Janet used the speech to highlight the growth in the CLC community. Its collective turnover in 2020 was £277m, almost three times more than 2009/10, when the industry had recovered from the global financial crisis. It rose by an 26% to £349m in the year to April 2021.

She added: “I hope it means that firms have a war chest to get them through what looks set to be a turbulent period for the global economy and we are advising practices to stress-test their business against the possibility of a downturn in transaction volumes.”


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