LSB demands transparency around PC fees setting

Topics: Regulation and compliance

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The Legal Services Board has opened a consultation with the profession aimed at getting more transparency on how practising certificate fees are spent.

The oversight regulator said it was important solicitors know how their resources are allocated.

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Existing practising certificate rules have been in place for six years and the LSB said it is time to test whether they remain fit for purpose.

The organisation proposes a rule which requires regulators to be ‘clear and transparent’ about the allocation of financial resources to ensure accountability.

Where there is a proposed increase in fees, the LSB wants to see evidence including future forecasts of budgets and fees.

Specifically, rules would be changed to the criteria against which the LSB will assess fee level applications, and to the evidence required.

Neil Buckley (pictured), chief executive of the LSB, said that a reduced regulatory burden should help cut costs.

‘The LSB believes in the importance of reducing regulatory costs in legal service. Where possible we use our role in the oversight of legal services regulation to reduce costs to both the profession and the public.

‘Practising certificate fee rules have been in place for six years and we think it is now time to test whether they continue to meet the purpose for which they were intended.’

The LSB makes clear this is not a consultation on who should receive the fees or the cost of regulation.

Responding to the consultation, SRA chief executive, Paul Philip said the proposed changes are in line with its commitment to being transparent about the way that practising fees paid by solicitors and firms are used.

‘We regularly communicate information with solicitors about how fees are calculated and how they are spent, and we are keen to do more. It is important that we are as efficient and effective as possible.

‘Being open about how the fees are used helps to show that we are providing a value-for-money service to the profession and to the public.’

The consultation closes on 8 April.

Readers' comments (13)

  • We know how they're spent....they're wasted.

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  • And while you're at it could you please ask for transparency over how the fees of the SRA and SDT are calculated when someone is disciplined? What categories of fee earner is there and how much do they charge per hour?

    £30,000 is not an uncommon figure which, at £100 per hour, represents 300 hours. When in practice I calculated that I could do 1,000 chargeable hours per annum. £100 per hour is therefore the equivalent of three /four months' continuous work. No wonder they have never replied to my requests for a breakdown.Perhaps they are charging £1,000 per hour? Who knows until they tell us?

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  • I agree David.

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  • To the LSB's credit, this is an extremely welcome move. We all rightly complain on seeing our fees spent on projects against our wishes and interests, such as a conveyancing portal that none of us wanted and which shall remain nameless for its own protection. Being able to see precisely what proportion of our fees is spent in each area will better enable us to make a reasoned argument as to how they could be better spent. Of course, whether anyone actually listens to such an argument is another matter entirely, but being able to make it is a good start.

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  • In fairness the Law Society does, as you would expect, publish its annual report and accounts. The problem is that the detail in the accounts is pretty scant. It should not be difficult for them to break down the figures into meaningful components. Why do they not just do not instead of there having to be a consultation?

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  • The trouble with 'structural functionalism' i e when a function needs to be performed a structure comes into existence to perform it, is that when that function is complete, some might say 'functus officio,' others just 'FO,' the structure either has to be dismantled as redundant, or it has to find something else to do...

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  • Maybe someone should press for some clarity about the £7 million of PC fees which were wasted on Veyo.

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  • The accountants are coming.....Please can I be regulated by the ICAEW. I couldn't care less then about the tinkering around the edges of PC fee costs.

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  • Totally agree Mr Crawford. Nothing short of a rip off !

    But then these guys are a law unto themselves - you'll get no answers I'll bet.

    LB

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  • So far you're dead right, My Lord, absolute silence. They clearly have something to hide. £1,000/hour perhaps?

    And did you know that those who 'prosecute' for SRA before SDT are obliged to agree not to represent a 'defendant' in the same tribunal? I personally find that utterly unacceptable and those who agree to take such instructions should perhaps think twice before doing so again.

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