10,000 solicitors miss PC renewal deadline as SRA begins "comprehensive review" of process

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By Legal Futures

8 March 2012


Fees: firms and solicitors to support compensation fund equally

Practising certificates (PCs) continue to dominate news from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), with around 10,000 solicitors failing to meet last Friday’s deadline for renewal.

The SRA has also begun a review of this year’s chaotic PC renewal exercise – the first handled online – and decided that firms will continue to pay 60% of its funding requirement next year.

An SRA spokesman said that as of yesterday, 92% of anticipated applications have been submitted – there were 125,000 PC holders last October, when the process began.

The SRA has issued 72,000 PCs and the spokesman said: “There are several thousand more in the system where payment is being processed or has yet to be received. We are confident these outstanding applications will soon be completed. We expect to make contact with those individuals and firms who have failed to complete the process early next week to establish their individual circumstances.”

A statement from the SRA said “the process has not run as smoothly as the SRA had hoped”, and so it is carrying out “a comprehensive review… to keep any frustrations the profession face next time to a minimum”.

The review begins with an online survey which be used to prioritise the issues that need to be looked at. This priority list will then be discussed at a series of worksh

ops held across the country.

Mike Jeacock, the SRA’s chief operating officer, said: “Changing the way we carried out the renewals process was wholly necessary and the introduction of mySRA in the long run will save everyone time and money. However, we have no illusions about how frustrating this year’s renewals process has been, for all concerned, and we want to avoid a similar situation next time around.

“So we’re conducting this review as promptly as possible so we can incorporate the lessons learned quickly. The review will hopefully allow us to identify those problems that affected the profession most, and therefore draw up solutions.”

The online survey can be found at http://www.sra.org.uk/mySRA/. Those interested in attending the workshops should contact their Law Society regional manager.

Finally, the SRA board decided last week that there will be no changes to next year’s fees structure, meaning it will retain the 60/40 firm/individual split of PC fees, and the 50/50 split of Compensation Fund contributions. The SRA will also maintain the maternity leave discount on PCs.

The board will not consult on this decision, although a fundamental review of the fees structure is planned for next year. It will decide in the coming months how much it will charge firms and individuals.

Mr Jeacock said: “This is the second year running the board has decided against changing the fees structure. This will allow firms to plan for next year’s budget. The setting of fees by the SRA is based on eight principles, which include being fair to payers, being stable, and taking account of ability to pay.” Next year’s fees will be due to be paid in November.

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