The Solicitors Regulation Authority has admitted defeat in its bid to introduce an online system for tens of thousands of solicitors who want to stay on the roll because it fears a repeat of last year’s PC renewal shambles.
The annual ‘keeping of the roll’ process for those without practising certificates (PCs) is now expected to commence on 3 September, six months after it should have happened. It was last done in March 2010.
It will be a paper exercise in the wake of the problems that beset the new online PC renewal process last year. There are more than 37,000 solicitors on the 166,000-strong roll who do not have PCs for a variety of reasons, with a good number in-house lawyers.
SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: “We have made the decision to continue with a paper process for keeping of the roll this year as we are focusing our efforts on delivering an improved online system for PC renewals. At present, given the current infrastructure, we cannot be sufficiently confident that putting keeping of the roll online would not cause difficulties for those completing the process, and we are determined to avoid this.
“Carrying out further work to make the system stable for keeping of the roll could detract from the significant progress we are making with our suppliers on enhancements for PC renewals and we are not prepared to take this risk.”
The SRA will be writing to all those eligible to stay on the roll during the three-week period commencing 3 September, enclosing an application form that can be used to confirm that they want to keep their name on or remove it from the roll of solicitors. There will be a fee of £20, which for this year only, will cover both 2011 and 2012, although those who have been on the roll for 50 years or more are exempt.
Completed forms and payment have to be made by 16 November otherwise individuals’ names will be removed from the roll.