Fees for expertise

News that the Law Society has hiked the cost of practising certificates by 18.6 per cent will have incensed many in the public sector (see story).

Local authorities have long campaigned for an exemption or, at least, a reduction in the fee, which is charged to all working solicitors.

Now, cash-strapped councils will have to pay £1,180 for each lawyer they employ. For the largest this is a genuine headache. Birmingham City Council’s Mirza Ahmed, for example, spends more than £100,000 a year on certificates and is leading calls for change (see story).

It’s a compelling argument, especially as government lawyers, also paid with public cash, receive a statutory discount.

But not everyone agrees. There are those, like Kent County Council head lawyer Geoff Wild, who says that if public sector lawyers are to be taken seriously, they must be treated exactly the same as their private sector counterparts – even if that means taking a financial hit. 

Whatever your view, things are unlikely to change soon. The SRA has pledged to hold a consultation but said no action can be taken until 2010 at the earliest. 

Which means public bodies will have to shell out for at least one more year.