We are at that point in the year when we particularly want to hear from members. The Law Society is preparing its budgets for the next financial period and working to reduce the cost of our work for the profession by focusing on what matters.
We are mindful that we are spending members’ money and are prioritising the work members value, particularly promoting the profession, while driving efficiency and continuous improvement in what we offer. This is at a time when we are responding to an increasing number of consultations from the Ministry of Justice, Solicitors Regulation Authority and others that impact on practice, access to the profession and justice. In addition, we are working hard to promote the jurisdiction and the standing of the profession, as well as explaining to government the consequences of the vote to leave the EU and its impact 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 plan for 2017/18 is that the individual practising fee of £278 will be £12 lower than last year. This is a reduction of 4% thanks to a combination of efficiencies and a greater number of solicitors on the roll to divide the cost between. 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%.
The annual practising fee includes costs from the SRA and 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.
The Law Society and SRA consult with you every year about the practising certificate fee. The Council will see the results of this consultation at a meeting on 5 July before they discuss and agree the final budget proposal. We also share the findings of the consultation with the Legal Services Board 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.
Robert Bourns, President, Law Society