The cost of a practising certificate fee for solicitors will be held at the same level in 2018-19 as this year under draft plans presented by the Law Society Group this week, but contributions towards the Compensation Fund are likely to rise.
The proposed £278 PC fee includes levies for the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, the Legal Services Board, the Financial Conduct Authority (to focus on money laundering activity), and the Legal Ombudsman.
The PC fee also covers the costs of the regulation work undertaken by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), but does not cover contributions to the Compensation Fund.
The SRA has set the level of contributions for solicitors to the Compensation Fund for 2018/19 at £90, up from £40. Firm contributions will meanwhile increase by £902, from £778 to £1,680.
The SRA said the decision to increase the levy for the second year running had been taken “in the light of key risks to the profession, including solicitor involvement in dubious investments schemes”.
Law Society President Joe Egan said the PC fee represented a £32 decrease over the last three years, a reduction of 10%. Since 2014 the fee has gone down by 28%.
He added: “By making considerable efficiency savings across the Society, along with an increase in the number of solicitors on the roll, we are able to freeze fees while delivering greater value to members.”
Enid Rowlands, Chair of the SRA, said: “It’s important that the practising certificate fees offer value for money for the profession, while ensuring that we can protect the public and support the rule of law and the administration of justice. Our drive for efficiency is a key part of keeping costs down and I am pleased that we have again been able to deliver more without increasing the fees.”
The proposed PC fee is now open for consultation and the results of the consultation will be considered at the Law Society’s Annual General Meeting on 5 July 2018. If approved, the fee goes to the oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board, for final approval.
Commenting on the increase in contributions to the Compensation Fund, SRA Chief Executive Paul Philip said: “The extra layer of protection the Compensation Fund provides helps maintain trust and confidence in regulated law firms. We are responsible for making sure there are enough funds to cover potential future claims and the rise in contributions reflects the forecasts of increased pressure on the Fund.”