Fees: cost of practising to fall

The cost of a solicitor’s practising certificate (PC) is set to fall 23% this year – even more than anticipated – we can reveal.

The board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will next week be asked to approve a fee of £328 for 2011/12, down £100 on the last year and £22 lower than the figure it originally indicated.

Individual PC fees make up 40% of the cost of regulation, with the rest levied as firm fees. As first reported on Legal Futures, firm fees are also set to fall by over 20%.

It will be for the Law Society council to sign off the figures, which will then be submitted to the Legal Services Board for final approval.

Contributions to the Solicitors Compensation Fund are set to rocket, however, from £10 to £60 for individuals, and £120 to £772 for firms.

The SRA board will also be asked to approve measures that give the authority flexibility in determining the turnover of alternative business structures (ABSs) for the purposes of levying the firm fee.

The SRA will be able to substitute an alternative estimated turnover figure “where it reasonably considers that the estimated turnover figure produced by the applicant body does not fully reflect the true value of the legal services to be provided”.

This could happen where the ABS is part of a group of businesses which provide a range of services, some of which may be bundled with legal services that may be offered at a reduced rate or for free.

Other examples include the ABS being part of an insurance company where some of the legal services may be supported by premium funding, rather than fee income, or where the ABS provides a mix of regulated activities and other activities which are either unregulated or regulated by other regulators.

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