Solicitors could pay 28% less for their practising certificate (PC) fee this year than they did in 2014, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said today as they launched a consultation proposing an individual rate of £278 per solicitor for 2017-18.
The proposed reduction in the PC fee is 4% this year, representing a decrease of £12 for each solicitor on last years' fee.
The Law Society and the SRA have been working hard to manage the costs of their work to the profession. The fee includes levies for the Legal Services Board and the Legal Ombudsman. This year an additional cost is also included in the fee in anticipation of the need to fund a new regulatory role created by the Financial Conduct Authority to focus on money laundering activity.
Commenting on the consultation, Law Society president Robert Bourns said:
"Solicitors and firms pay annual fees toward the cost of regulation, discharging the profession's public interest role, representing, promoting and supporting solicitors.
"We prioritise the work members value, particularly promoting the profession, whilst driving efficiency and continuous improvement in what we offer. Overall, the individual fee has been reduced by £42 in the last two years, a reduction of more than 13%. Since 2014 the fee has dropped by 28%.
"We are responding to increasing numbers of consultations from the Ministry of Justice and others that have profound implications for legal practice, access to the profession and to justice. At the same time we are working hard to promote our jurisdiction and the standing of the profession, as well as explaining to government the consequences of the vote to leave the EU and the potential impact of this on practice rights.
"In short, the society delivers a huge amount of work, much of it with immediate impact, significantly more of it with a longer term effect. Our work underpins a growing legal services sector currently worth £25.7 billion annually to the economy and a 1% growth in our sector creates 8,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy."
The Law Society’s Council will see the results of this consultation at their meeting on Wednesday 5 July before they discuss and agree the final 2017-18 budget proposal. We also share the findings of the consultation with the Legal Services Board (LSB) along with our proposal for the PC fee. As the oversight regulator, the LSB considers and approves the fee and so the final budget may be subject to change.
Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: "I am pleased that practising fees will be reduced this year. We are continually looking to reduce operating costs year on year, and our directly-controlled budget for regulation has reduced by around £6.7 million - or 13% - over four years. Efficiencies like this, combined with an increased number of solicitors on the roll, has led to the proposal to set lower fees in 2017-18."
Notes to editors
Solicitors and their firms pay annual PC fees - this includes £68.7 million towards the cost of regulation. The Solicitors Regulation Authority receives £53.5 million, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal £2.6 million and the Legal Services Board £2.8 million.
The annual fees also include £31.1 million to fund much of the Law Society's work to represent, promote and support the profession. It pays for the profession's vital public interest work.
As well as funding the Law Society and SRA, PC fees also fund the levies we pay under the Legal Services Act.
The Law Society Group includes the Law Society of England and Wales and the SRA.
The Law Society generates around £15.3 million through its commercial activities.
About the Law Society
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Press office contact: Harriet Beaumont | Harriet.Beaumont@LawSociety.org.uk | +44 (0)20 7320 5830