The number of firms at risk of closure after failing to obtain professional indemnity insurance (PII) stands at 176, the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed today - the last day on which emergency extended cover was available. 

The figure is for firms that have applied for the new extended indemnity period (EIP) scheme, introduced this year to replace the Assigned Risks Pool.

Under the scheme, firms were permitted to practise for 30 days from 1 October while attempting to obtain a qualifying insurance policy.

Any firms that have not secured cover by the end of today will enter the ‘cessation period’ and will have five days to notify the SRA that they have ceased practising. 

Overall, 223 firms entered the extended period, with 47 of those managing to obtain insurance, the SRA said. 

Frank Maher, partner at professional indemnity specialists Legal Risk, says the number of firms due to close might increase by tomorrow morning, as 31 October is the deadline for practising certificate applications. 

The cost of the PII premium was the immediate cause of the demise of Midlands firm Hacking Ashton, a meeting of creditors heard last Friday. The firm is now in administration.