The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has laid bare the litany of complaints about the botched 2011 practising certificate renewal process.
Introduction of the mySRA system was beset by technical problems which meant that renewal was completed far later than planned, and has led to knock-on delays for other work, such as nominating compliance officers and solicitors applying to stay on the roll.
Following a review of the renewal process – which included an online survey and workshops around the country – the regulator is again surveying solicitors to confirm that it has identified the right key issues before it introduces improvements to the system in time for the next round of online PC renewals this autumn.
Solicitors said they wanted firms to have greater control over the way they complete the PC renewal and recognition exercise, with organisational contacts given access to individual employee accounts and allowed to process the applications on behalf of colleagues if they agree.
They wanted the application to be simpler and easier to complete, and called for SRA support to improve, with complaints about long wait times when calling the contact centre and inconsistent advice.
The SRA has also highlighted criticism of the system’s unreliable performance, with the website crashing, and inherent defects, such as in making payments.
SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: “We know there were difficulties with this year’s exercise, for which we apologise sincerely. No-one wants a repeat of this in the next renewals cycle, so we’ve gathered feedback to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“We’d like to thank everyone who completed the on-line survey, or who attended the workshops, as the information gathered has been very useful. We’re now asking for some further feedback to ensure that we’ve prioritised the main issues properly: we want to concentrate on the things which matter most to those we regulate.”
The short survey can be found here and closes on 15 May.