The Solicitors Regulation Authority has abandoned its online system for maintaining a list of solicitors who want to stay on the roll, costing it hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost fees.
There are around 35,000 qualified solicitors who do not have practising certificates, but who chose to remain on the roll. They pay an annual £20 fee to stay on the roll, unless they have been on the roll for over 50 years.
The SRA was due to begin the ‘keeping of the roll’ process in April, with solicitors registering their details via the online MySRA process, rolled out last year for practising certificate renewals.
But the online system has been dogged by problems and the SRA has said it wants to focus on improving the system before extending it. Those solicitors who want to remain on the roll will complete a paper exercise.
The last keeping of the roll exercise was carried out in March 2010. It has been delayed due to problems experienced with the online practising certificate renewals exercise.
Solicitors' names have been retained on the roll and solicitors will remain on the roll for this year without paying the £20 fee.
The SRA will write to all individuals eligible to stay on the roll during the three-week period commencing 3 September, enclosing an application form for solicitors to complete informing the SRA whether or not they wish to stay on the roll.
There will be a fee of £20, which for this year only, will cover both 2011 and 2012.
Completed forms and payment have to be made by 16 November otherwise individuals' names will be removed from the roll of solicitors.
SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: ‘We have made the decision to continue with a paper process for keeping of the roll this year as we are focusing our efforts on delivering an improved online system for PC renewals.’
At present, given the current infrastructure, he noted, the SRA cannot be sufficiently confident that putting ‘keeping of the roll’ online would not cause difficulties for those completing the process.
Townsend added: ‘Carrying out further work to make the system stable for keeping of the roll could detract from the significant progress we are making with our suppliers on enhancements for PC renewals and we are not prepared to take this risk.’