The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been given the go-ahead to simplify regulatory arrangements for sole practitioners.
The Legal Services Board has ‘exempted’ the proposed reform from the umbrella regulator’s normal-decision making process. It will, therefore, form part of Handbook amendments that come into effect on 1 November.
At present, a solicitor cannot practise as a sole practitioner unless they have a ‘sole solicitor endorsement’ on their practising certificate. The endorsement has to be renewed every year.
By contrast, other firms go through a one-off authorisation process.
Under the new changes, when sole practitioners renew their practising certificates, they will be issued a certificate without an endorsement, as is the case for managers at other types of firm. The same application form will be used to renew a practising certificate and pay a periodical fee.
Crispin Passmore, SRA executive director of policy, said the changes would ‘harmonise and simplify regulatory arrangements for sole practitioners’.
Sukhjit Ahluwalia, chair of the Sole Practitioners Group, welcomed the news.
’When you’re talking about sole practitioners, they are one-man-band individuals. What’s going to change in that process on an annual basis?’, Ahluwalia said. ’There are many other choices the SRA has if there is anything that needs to be flagged.’