Regulators are this week set to scrap the need for non-practising solicitors to take part in the keeping of the roll exercise.
The SRA board is likely to approve proposals to remove the annual requirement on solicitors who do not have practising certificates.
Members of this group - which numbers around 30,000 - have to complete an online application and pay £20 if they wish their name to remain on the roll.
Following a consultation earlier this year, the SRA has recommended that its board agrees on the plan when it meets this week.
In place of the keeping of roll exercise, board members are likely to approve a proposal for the SRA to retain the power to make an enquiry of a non-practising solicitor when ‘deemed appropriate’.
The consultation received 138 responses in total, including from 57 individuals, most in favour of stopping the annual exercise.
Positive responses included that this was a ‘rational step to streamline regulation’, with another suggesting the current arrangement was a ‘nuisance’ for people who do not want to give up the non-practising solicitor title.
The exercise is understood to be budget-neutral, with the £600,000 taken in fees offset by administrative costs.
The Law Society responded by stating that the duty of keeping the roll should go further than simply keeping a list of people who once qualified as a solicitor. It suggested that if this is truly a regulatory function, then that implies that the roll needs to be as up to date and accurate as possible. As a minimum the SRA should give certainty by setting renewal at less frequent but defined intervals, the Society argued.
The City of London Law Society expressed concern that the proposal would lead to an increased proportion of deceased solicitors’ names on the roll and that this could provide a target for fraudsters seeking to pass themselves off as non-practising solicitors.
The SRA responded that this risk was ‘minimal’ since it is of greater advantage to a potential fraudster to impersonate a practising solicitor.