A specialist regulator has announced ambitions to cut its fees more than previously announced in a bid to become 'regulator of choice' for probate and conveyancing services.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers originally proposed reducing its regulatory fees by 20% but has now applied to the Legal Services Board to reduce fees by 30%. It also proposes to cut Compensation Fund contribution rates by 60%.
At present, CLC-regulated firms pay a base practice fee of 1.1% of turnover, which is reduced incrementally on fee income of more than £100,000. The base Compensation Fund contribution is 0.4% of turnover, but will change to 0.16% if approved by the LSB. Individual licences cost up to £475. The CLC says conveyancing and probate specialists who have paid the registration fee in the past will receive a £75 discount if they take up a full licence.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which regulates 170,000 solicitors and 10,400 firms, has presented proposals to freeze PC fees next year.
The CLC said it was able to 'safely' consider reducing practice costs because of its proactive approach to securing compliance. Cost management and selling properties have helped reserve levels. Despite uncertainty in the housing market, the CLC said its members 'have been performing well in business terms, so the CLC does not need the current levels of reserves in hand to deal with the potential impact of wider economic instability on the firms it regulates. The CLC is able to run a deficit budget for a period to reduce those reserves'.
Sheila Kumar, CLC chief executive, said: 'There are real benefits for all, particularly consumers, when our approach as a risk-based independent regulator, working with our regulated community, enables us to pass on regulatory savings in the form of lower fees. Our focused approach means we are in close touch with those we regulate, with regulatory supervision managers who understand not only the regulatory but also the business risks the regulated community faces.
'This means we take the action that is needed to ensure licensed conveyancers deliver a high-quality service, while not burdening them with unduly costly and onerous regulation. It is especially pleasing that we are able to go further than initially indicated, in line with our ambition to be the regulator of choice in our specialist areas.'
Latest figures provided by the CLC state that, at the end of July 2018, it regulated 221 practices with a combined turnover of more than £227m and licensed 1,373 individuals.