The president of The Law Society has today written to solicitors explaining the process for renewing practising certificates in 2012/13, which will begin on 1 November. Lucy Scott-Moncrieff outlines steps that have been taken to make the process run smoothly following last year’s well-publicised disruption.

These include the introduction of a function enabling administrators to complete the renewal process for an entire organisation, rather than requiring individual solicitors to apply for their new certificate through the ‘mySRA’ portal.

A ‘non-negotiable’ 1 November renewal date will allow the completion of work to change the way in which online renewal operates, Scott-Moncrieff explains. Testing of the new administrator function is under way and the Society will not be able to confirm its successful completion before late-September.

A ‘reliable and robust fall-back position’ is on stand-by if testing does not complete in time, for which the Solicitors Regulation Authority will announce support measures during October should it turn out to be needed.

Scott-Moncrieff writes: ‘I recognise that the fallback arrangements are not ideal. However, better this than the risk of problems with the new system, hence the extensive testing. My main focus, therefore, is to ensure that you are aware of the current situation and planning to enable you use the time between now and 1 November (armed with the further information that will follow as to the roll-out of the improved system) to plan and prepare for renewal from 1 November.’

An SRA spokesperson said: 'Our understanding is that following requests from members, the Law Society took the decision to announce the start dates for the practising certificate renewals exercise ahead of the SRA's planned communication, which will include the dates for the process, on 20 September.

'This announcement will be followed by a comprehensive communication to all organisational contacts and authorised signatories on 25 September.

'A further communication will follow to all those who have activated a mySRA account on 2 October. These communications will be supported by an extensive web resource. Rather than call the SRA's contact centre, we ask that firms delay making contact until they have seen the detailed information that we will be sending out.'

On Tuesday, the SRA urged those remaining individuals and firms who have not yet activated their mySRA accounts to do so ahead of the 2012 renewals exercise. If the SRA does not hold current work emails for those it regulates, there is a danger that those individuals will not receive important communications about regulatory requirements, it warned.