Form-filling is increasingly becoming part of the job. But how many solicitors answer the questions honestly?

Sometimes all I seem to do is form-filling. Indemnity renewal then practising certificate renewal and for some of us lucky ones Legal Aid Agency audits as well, to say nothing of the other audits and accountants’ visits. A lot of this is ticking boxes on both sides, the auditor and auditee. 

Now that you’ve printed off the indemnity policy and hopefully filled in the firm’s PC renewal online, perhaps we can take a moment to reflect on the questions we are asked. For indemnity renewal the purpose of the questions was clear. It was rather like renewing car insurance. Have you had any accidents? Have you any convictions? Can you drive? For lawyers it was, have you had any claims? Have you got into trouble with the Solicitors Regulation Authority? Do you do risky work? No: good, yes: bad. Simples.  

But now we have same questions, plus ‘are you a risky firm?’. They ask about net worth, and accounts. If you do low-risk work you’re probably on low income. So low income means risky. We cannot have it both ways.  

For the practising certificates it is similar. Obvious questions like ‘what is your address?’. And ‘does anyone still work for you?’. But now questions such as: are you dishonest? Do you know anyone who is dishonest? Do you have respect for the law? I wonder how many people answer these questions honestly. Why are they asked?

At least, I suppose, there is only one SRA. You do not have to choose from a list of brokers and then find the correct professional organisation for you. Perhaps next year.

David Pickup is a partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott