The Law Society of Scotland has again reduced the cost of practising in recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on its members – in contrast with its counterpart in England and Wales.
The body’s governing council has set the practising certificate (PC) fee for every Scottish solicitor at 10% less than the pre-pandemic level of £460 in 2019/20, and similar cut to the ‘accounts fee’ paid by law firm partners of up to £422.
The proposals will be put to a vote at next week’s annual general meeting.
Amanda Millar, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “While restrictions are easing and business is increasing, the impact of lockdown has not disappeared. That is why we are proposing keeping fees below the pre-pandemic rate for a second year to help Scottish solicitors and their businesses on the road to recovery.”
In the wake of the first lockdown last year, the society reduced its fees by 20%, saving solicitors up to £380 a year, at a cost of £2.2m.
It also furloughed staff, imposed a recruitment freeze and identified other savings.
The Law Society of England and Wales kept its individual practising fees static for a fourth year in 2020, but did not offer any reductions or make any cuts.
This was even though two-thirds of solicitors said they did not consider it value for money, and many expressing concern at the level being charged given the impact of Covid-19.
This year’s proposed fees have not yet been announced but the Solicitors Regulation Authority said earlier this month that it did not expect its portion of the fee – about £150 for the £278 individual practising certificate – to increase this year despite looking to increase its budget by £2m to nearly £72m.
Around 60% of the Law Society’s practising fee income comes from the firm fee, which Scotland does not have.