Law Soc ups certificate fee to meet extra costs

The practising certificate fee looks set to rise again next year following the Law Society Council’s approval of a £94.8m budget for 2005 at its last council meeting.

The budget, approved for 1 January to 31 December 2005, takes into account an extra £2.3m required to meet new complaints-handling targets requested by the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner (LSCC).

Due to the increased cash requirement from 2004’s £78m, the practising certificate fee for 2005-06 is projected at £1,006 – a rise of £176 from the 2004-05 fee of £830.

Future budget changes are likely to come from financial burdens laid on the Law Society by influences such as the outcome of the Clementi review into the regulation of the legal profession.

Meanwhile, the Law Society made a loss of more than £215,000 on last year’s annual conference.

Delegate income, including tickets for the gala dinner, brought in £66,354, while sponsorship and the conference exhibition made around £200,000. But expenditure far outweighed the income.

The most expensive cost was that of hiring the venue, the Birmingham International Conference Centre, which was £70,018. Catering costs came a close second, running to £67,299. Law Society chief executive Janet Paraskeva said staff time cost £35,693, with “associated staff costs” estimated at an additional £50,000.
Paraskeva made the announcement as part of her regular report to the Law Society Council.
Speaking to the council, Paraskeva admitted that “the losses are very significant”. She added that dealing with the loss would be “in the hands of the council”.
For the first time, the report on the conference took into account the cost to the society of staff time. Paraskeva said that, previously, “internal recharging” for costs such as staff attendance had obscured the true cost.
This year’s conference will be a smaller, one-day event. It is due to be held in London in conjunction with the larger Commonwealth Law Conference, organised by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.