The Solicitors Regulation Authority has reported a huge fall in numbers of firms who did not renew their professional indemnity insurance last year.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip (pictured) said 49 firms entered the 'cessation period' after not renewing their PII.

The cessation period begins 30 days after the deadline for renewing PII and means firms can handle only existing instructions while they have 60 days to seek an insurer, if they wish to.

Of the 49 firms, Philip said 12 have filed notice of closure and have largely completed their winding down. As of 6 January, the remaining 37 had been contacted in relation to ‘information obtained during the process’.

Last year the SRA reported that 153 firms had entered the second section of the extended policy period (EPP), with 136 finishing the EPP without insurance and closing.

Philip, writing in his update ahead of Wednesday’s board meeting, confirmed that the SRA will again publish the list of firms which do not have insurance, with ‘appropriate communications’ to support the publication.

He added: ‘We expect to do this by the end of the month, subject to us being fully satisfied with the data.’

The fall in numbers of firms entering the EPP last October may be attributed in part to increasing numbers of firms opting to change their renewal deadline.

It may also point to a more stable insurance market reported by several analysts during renewal season.

Certainly, the number of uninsured firms was much lower than the 1,863 that were emailed after the renewal deadline by the SRA saying there was no evidence they had renewed.

Philip later admitted the mistake should not have happened and measures were taken to ensure it was not repeated.