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.

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.

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