Law Soc's computer system runs five times over budget

THE LAW Society's new computer system will cost five times more than was originally anticipated, a confidential consultants' report reveals.

The implementation of the Regis system has been characterised by “time pressures” and “errors,” says the report which estimates it will have cost £10m by the time it is fully installed, compared to the original £2.038m estimate.

The report was commissioned by the inquiry set up earlier this year after the Regis 3 system – which was being used to send out and collect revenue from practising certificates – plunged into chaos.

The inquiry has yet to publish its final report, but the consultants have warned that the remaining phases of the project should only proceed after “necessary consolidation” has been undertaken.

However, The Lawyer has learned that the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors has already appointed an external project manager to oversee the introduction of Regis 4, under which its complaints handling system will be computerised.

It has appointed an outside project manager to mastermind the operation, in line with one of the recommendations in the consultants' report.

The report, by business consultants DBI Associates, says the Regis project was “insufficiently clearly defined from the beginning”.

It adds: “There has generally been an over-optimistic approach to planning, reflected in the fact that target dates have been moved frequently yet still missed…The project should have had and still needs a single project manager.”

But the report does go on to say that the main faults and weaknesses of the system have been identified and corrected “and the system eventually performed as it should in producing the 1995 renewal forms and certificates”.

OSS chief Peter Ross said: “Obviously, there have been many lessons to learn from Regis in the past, and we wanted to ensure that we learned those lessons and applied them to Regis 4.”

Meanwhile, the Law Society has embarked on the issuing of practising certificates for this year. Senior officials will be desperately hoping there are no hiccups. A spokesman said: “We do not anticipate any particular problems.”