A thousand more law firms will no longer be required to submit accountants’ reports, the Solicitors Regulation Authority decided at yesterday’s board meeting. The change is set to be introduced on 1 November 2015.
The chairman of the Bar Council has urged the increasing number of barristers who decline to pay a voluntary £100 levy to fund its representative work to think again. Alistair MacDonald contrasted this reluctance with the 7,722 barristers who each made a £30 donation to help fund the Bar Pro Bono Unit.
The Legal Services Board is to hire an external accountant to examine how the Law Society and other regulators spend money raised through compulsory practising certificate fees.
Solicitors believe the practising certificate (PC) fee is still too high, despite a cut of 17% approved by the Law Society council earlier this month, research has revealed.
The Law Society is set to reduce the cost of practising by around 20%, even though its budget is going up in 2014/15. The net funding requirement for the next financial year is £116.7m, a 3.7% increase on this year’s budget.
The Legal Services Board is to tell the approved regulators that they must consult those they regulate about setting the level of practising fees beyond what is needed simply for regulation, it has emerged.
The Legal Services Board has urged the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority to “actively look for savings opportunities” after the society’s budget increased by £11.5m for the next year. It also criticised a lack of consultation with fee payers over what they will have to pay.
Self-employed barristers collectively earn around £2bn a year, more than doctors in private practice, according to Bar Council estimates. In a paper issued yesterday, the Bar Council said “the Bar overall continues to be a successful profession in terms of overall earnings”.
The possibility of the Law Society and other representative bodies being cut off from any of the money raised by practising fees has been raised by a Legal Services Board call for an “open debate on the cost of regulation”.
The cost of practising as a solicitor will rise well above inflation this year, mainly to ensure the Law Society has the funds to compensate the victims of fraud, but also to make up the cost of IT project overruns.