Society's new computer system were described as a “crisis” by staff on the same day vice-president Robert Sayer was assured “teething problems” were being overcome, it has been revealed.

In the internal email, seen by The Lawyer, director of professional standards and development John Randall said he was “extremely worried” about the new computer system.

The memo, issued in mid-December, is in contrast to the assurances received by Sayer in a meeting of the society's strategy committee on the same day.

Earlier this month secretary general John Hayes publicly apologised for delays in the sending out of practising certificates, blaming the problem on bugs in the computer.

In the memo Randall said: “Our difficulties with conveyancing and indemnity pale into insignificance beside it.

“We have a real crisis in that we cannot adequately discharge two of our core functions, the issue of practising certificates and the accounting for income received.”

Randall called for outside help to deal with the problem. “We seem to have thrown a lot of money at the problem over the last six months,” he said.

A society spokesman said the problem had now been resolved and the memo was a bid for extra resources. But Sayer expressed grave concern.