Cost of LSA sees practising certificate fee rocket

The Law Society has hiked the cost of a practising certificate by nearly 20 per cent to £1,180 a year.

The annual fee, which is charged to all practising solicitors, is used to pay for the work of the bodies representing and regulating the profession.

The rate was set at £995 for the 2008-09 year, meaning that it has increased 18.6 per cent this year.

Law Society chief executive Des Hudson blamed the rise on the cost of implementing the Legal Services Act (LSA) and a fall in the number of practising certificate holders.

The fee funds the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) and the Legal Services Board (LSB), both established by the LSA, as well as the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Hudson said: “It’s our intention to drive down the cost of the practising certificate once the initial cost of the OLC and LSB are out of the way – with the aim to bring it gradually down to last year’s level.”

The £1,180 fee is divided up as follows: £492 for the SRA, £281 for the Legal Complaints Service, and £256 for the Law Society.

The remainder is spent on the OLC, pensions and other costs.

The Law Society said it had frozen its budget for 2010 at 2009 levels to keep the fee as low as possible.

Hudson added: “Regulation, complaints handling and  support services account for by far the majority of the practising  certificate (PC) fee. We’re taking every step that’s available to us to minimise the costs for the society and in turn the burden on the profession.”