The Law Society has proposed that fines imposed at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal be used to fund regulation of the legal profession.

Last week the Gazette revealed that almost half of the solicitors fined by the tribunal in recent years had avoided paying those fines in full.

Since 2008, 266 solicitors of the 579 fined have yet to pay their penalty in full, the Gazette discovered.

A spokesman for the Law Society said it was ‘surprising’ that HM Treasury – which is responsible for collecting fines – was allowing solicitors to get away with not paying in full.

He said: ‘These solicitors are prosecuted at considerable expense to the profession and this makes a mockery of attempts to investigate.

‘If the Treasury cannot be bothered to collect them adequately, then the power should be given to the Society and the costs of the fines should be put towards the costs of regulating solicitors, as happens with the bar.’

A total of £1.7m was owed at the end of 2012, a significant proportion of the £3.5m of fines issued in the previous five years.

A spokesman for the Treasury said enforcement officers sometimes negotiate staggered or reduced payments with solicitors when they are unable to pay in full, rather than petition for bankruptcy, to ensure at least some of the fine is paid.