Law Soc budget suffers £7m shortfall

The Law Society has a £7.1m hole in its budget as a result of expanding its regulatory department after setting last year's practising certificate (PC) fee, which is its main source of income

“We set the PC fee in July 2002 and then our council voted to expand the regulation directorate,” a society spokesperson explained.

The society has budgeted to spend just under £89.7m in 2003 and will have an income of £82.6m.

It is not unusual for the Law Society to experience significant holes in its balance sheet.

In 2001 the society was running at an estimated £5m deficit; last January The Lawyer revealed that the society had a £12m hole in its final salary pension scheme (The Lawyer, 7 January 2002); and last May it emerged that it had gone £3m over its legal budget, spending £7.4m on external advisers, largely to defend former vice-president Kamlesh Bahl's various claims against it.

Law Society chief executive Janet Paraskeva said: “Following a projected surplus in 2002, the [Law Society] Council has simply made provision within the 2003 budget to take account of the decision to invest further in enhanced regulatory work, a decision which was taken after the Practising Certificate Fee had been set for the forthcoming year.”