Paralegals: Enhancing Consumer Choice and Protection

STAGE ONE CONSULTATION ON
RIGHTS OF AUDIENCE FOR PARALEGALS

We appreciate your participation in this consultation.
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About this consultation

The PPR is working in conjunction with the Institute of Paralegals to consult on obtaining rights of audience for Professional Paralegals who are members of the PPR, to enhance consumer choice and to assist with cost-effective legal advice and assistance within the courts.

Following our second paralegal conference in June 2017 the PPR committed to addressing this issue with the help of the Institute. Looking to the future of the profession that has the PPR’s robust voluntary regulation, we are now consulting on the need for Paralegals to have rights of audience in the lower courts, at a time where there is a record number of litigants in person. This consultation focuses on the proposal that:

1 - Qualified, Registered & Regulated Paralegals working in a specialist area with suitable expertise/experience, should be granted automatic Rights of Audience in cases where otherwise the Litigant would be acting in person [a Litigant in Person (LiP)], and,

2 - This granting of automatic Rights of Audience is of especial importance in cases where one Litigant IS represented, this being against the principle of the Equal Treatment Bench Book, and against the overriding objective of the CPR Rule 1.1 [of dealing with cases justly] resulting in one party being grossly disadvantaged in Law.

NOTE:  This Consultation process is entirely separate from the current debate regarding the use of MFs – paid for or otherwise.

The expectation is that if we keep to this narrow issue, we are more likely to succeed [it being a minor amendment to the LSA 2007], and as such the PPR can build on this moving forwards.

In order to support the above proposal, the overall aim of the Consultation process would be to:

a) Establish how many Paralegals are already working in Courts and being given R of A on a case by case basis

b) Establish that the assistance provided to Courts by Paralegals is necessary and desirable for both clients and the Courts

c) Demonstrate that Paralegals working with such a granting of R of A does not in any manner whatsoever undermine or challenge the existing R of A, and,

d) Demonstrate that the granting of automatic R of A to Qualified, Registered & Regulated Paralegals working in a specialist area with suitable expertise/experience will further extend Access to Justice in light of LASPO 2013 and provide much needed assistance to the courts, to clients and to the Judiciary.

We are keen to hear your feedback on this consultation This consultation is running from 25th October until 31st December 2017.

After this consultation closes, our next steps will be to collate and analyse all the responses. We will then decide what proposals we need to take forward.

How does this link to our strategic plan?

This consultation is part of a strategic programme of work that will enable the PPR to enhance the role of its regulated members. We are currently consulting on linked issues such as better information and more choice. That consultation sets out our proposals to make information more accessible for consumers.

The IoP who set standards for Paralegals in England and Wales, is working on its programme of providing training and qualifications for the sector as part of its aim to become chartered in the future.

These organisation’s programmes of work compliment each other and enable collaboration on this proposal.

 
Background to consultation

1. Our regulatory model focuses on a targeted and proportionate regulatory approach, which is fit for purpose in our fast changing and growing sector.

2. We have been developing our approach through an ongoing programme of regulatory policy revision. Our rules place focus on key protections, we intend to enhance this focus by removing unnecessary red tape and making the purpose of rules clearer.

3. We also focus our activity on our core purpose of providing consumer protection whilst supporting the operation of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice.

4. Setting and maintaining clear, high professional standards is fundamental to both good consumer protection and public trust and confidence in Paralegals.

5. We continue to promote our Paralegals in being able to offer activities that do not form part of the reserved activities or other regulated activities under the Legal Services Act 2007 and other provisions.

 
DRAFT OUTLINE DOCUMENT FOR PPR/IOP CONSULTATION PAPER

A: Legal Context

Below in the Appendix are relevant excerpts [for the Consultation process] from the ETBB November 2013 with regard to Rights of Audience and Rights to conduct Litigation under the LSA, with annotations inserted (underlining).

The legal basis for our proposal relies upon the following factors: beneficial and just [13]; the Tribunal system precedent [18]; the CPR Rule 1.1 [19]; the increase in LiPs [20]; an area where the Head of Civil Justice may wish to consider giving further guidance [23], and the advocate’s experience [24], and [27].

The PPR, working in conjunction with the Institute of Paralegals proposes that the Court needs to be aware of the standards, training and voluntary regulation that makes PPR Paralegals appropriate to receive automatic Rights of Audience.

B: The Consultation

You are invited to respond to the following sections as a first stage consultation by December 31st.

 
Section 1: Legal Status

 
What is your area of work (specialism):

 
Please list your Qualifications:

 
Are you a member of a Professional Body:

     
 
Are you registered with the PPR:

     
 
What Tier are you?

 
Are you regulated by the PPR (ie hold a PPC):

     
 
Number of years in area of specialism:

 
Section 2: Representation

 
Have you represented clients in Court?

     
 
Were some or all of these client Litigants in Person?


 
On what basis were you granted rights of representation?

 
Were/are you granted rights of representation by a Judge and/or Magistrates?

Or other applicable persons
     
 
Have you conducted negotiations between parties pre-hearings?

     
 
In any of those cases was a Consent agreement reached inter partes before going into Court?

     
 
Have you been asked to draft and file Orders by Magistrates/DJ?

     
 
Have you filed and served papers to Court/other parties on behalf of clients (acting as LiPs)?

     
 
Section 3: Practice Areas

 
Have you filed and served papers to Court/other parties on behalf of clients (acting as LiPs)?

Please select the following areas that you have done so.

 
Family:

 
How have you represented clients?


 
Please name the Courts in which you have represented clients:

 
Employment:

 
How have you represented clients?


 
Please name the Courts in which you have represented clients:

 
Criminal:

 
How have you represented clients?


 
Please name the Courts in which you have represented clients:

 
Housing:

 
How have you represented clients?


 
Please name the Courts in which you have represented clients:

 
Other Legal Specialism:

Such as IP, Business, small claims, contract, Finance, corporate, Conveyancing etc
 
How have you represented clients?


 
Please name the Courts in which you have represented clients:

 
If the other party was represented by a solicitor/Counsel, what was their reaction to you representing your client?


 
Did you conduct communication/negotiation with the other party’s solicitor pre-hearing or outside of the court setting (filing of papers, Orders, information etc)?

     
 
If the other party was also a LiP, what was their reaction to you representing your client?


 
Did you conduct communication/negotiation with the other party (the other LiP) pre-hearing or outside of the court setting (filing of papers, Orders, information etc)?

     
 
Did you represent clients as:


 
Was the Bench/Judge grateful for your assistance?

     
 
Was the Clerk/Legal Adviser/Usher grateful for your assistance?

     
 
In your view, what would have been the outcome if your client had been given no option but to self-represent?

 
Do you believe that the Courts/Judiciary overall benefitted from your assistance to date?

     
 
Section 4: Barriers, Benefits, Difficulties & Dangers

 
What do you think are the main barriers to Qualified, Registered & Regulated Paralegals being granted Rights of Audience?

 
What do you think would be the main benefits of Qualified, Registered & Regulated Paralegals being granted Rights of Audience (for Clients/the Judiciary/Court system)?

 
What do you think will be the main difficulties/dangers facing clients if Qualified, Registered, PPR Regulated Paralegals are not granted Rights of Audience?

 
Do you support an amendment to the LSA 2007 whereby Qualified, Registered & Regulated Paralegals should be granted Automatic Rights of Audience for clients who would otherwise be acting as a Litigant in Person?

     
 
Do you have any case studies/client testimonials that you can put forward as part of the Consultation process, either anonymously or with your client’s express Consent?

     
 
Any other comments?

Thank you for taking part in this consultation.

The PPR would like to thank Jane Warren F.InstPa for her specialist assistance in preparing this consultation.
To the PPR
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