The Solicitors Regulation Authority has apologised for further delays to online renewals of practising certificates as it starts to clear a backlog of applications. The SRA’s new mySRA system, which replaces paper forms and cheques, has been the subject of widespread criticism in the profession.

The Gazette has been contacted by a number of practitioners who say they found the system slow or prone to error - and many are concerned they will be blamed if their application is late as a result.

One solicitor said he had not yet received a code to activate his mySRA account, despite applying twice since September. He said the SRA website had informed him that the code would be sent within seven working days, but he has heard nothing since.

The SRA admitted last week that the implementation had ‘caused difficulties’. Chief executive Antony Townsend said: ‘We appreciate and apologise for the frustrations which the introduction of the system has caused.

‘The new system is transforming the way in which we deliver services to the profession and regulated individuals, leading to a system which will be cheaper and quicker than the old manual system, which was expensive to operate and slow.’

The SRA said that three-quarters of individuals on the roll had activated their mySRA accounts: 42% of applications are ‘in progress’, 25% have been ‘submitted’ and 7.5% have been ‘completed already’.

Firms and individuals whose full names begin with the letters A to D have until 13 February to renew. Those in the E-Z band have until 21 February.

The SRA said that failure to meet the deadlines will trigger the revocation process, under which solicitors receive 28 days’ notice that the authority will revoke their permission to practise.

With the deadline for renewals looming, the SRA said it had extended the operating hours of its call centre and bought in more capacity to handle calls.

The contact centre is operating between 8.30am and 5pm on Monday and Friday, 8.30am to 7pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 9am to 2pm on Saturday.