Kent legal chief slams call to cut certificate fees

Kent County Council legal chief Geoff Wild (pictured) has hit out at a campaign to reduce practising certificate fees for local government lawyers.

Geoff Wild

Writing for The Lawyer, Wild argues that central government solicitors should instead pay more to “reduce the burden on the rest of the profession”. Under current rules, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) charges local council lawyers the full rate for practising certificates while government solicitors receive a statutory exemption.

The Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors, led by Birmingham City Council’s Mirza Ahmed, is calling for a significant reduction in rates (16 March ).

Wild said: “The argument should instead be in support of central government solicitors paying practising certificate fees, coming into line with their fellow practitioners.

“The blunt truth is that the Government is getting solicitors on the cheap, or solicitors in government service are getting their opportunity to be solicitors on the cheap. The rest of the profession thinks some protectionism is going on, which is not good.”

Wild also argued that the exemption gives the impression that the lawyers who benefit from it are “second-class solicitors”.

The SRA has agreed to hold a consultation on the issue but said that no changes could be made until 2010 at the earliest.