The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed that, from April 2023, it is to re-introduce the requirement that solicitors who do not have a practising certificate must apply to them in order to remain on the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales.
The SRA have stated that the need to reintroduce such an annual application process has resulted from changes to data protection laws and in particular the need to ensure that data held is up to date.
As a consequence, any solicitor without a current practising certificate, including those who are retired, working in-house, or who are not currently practising, will from next year be required to complete an annual application to remain on the roll, and pay a small administration fee. Those who do not complete their annual return will lose the right to refer to themselves as a non-practising solicitor, or access the associated benefits this title brings.
The SRA have undertaken to run an awareness campaign prior to the change in April to help make sure all current solicitors without practising certificates are aware of the requirement and that the contact details that the SRA hold are up-to-date.
The change follows a public consultation exercise earlier this year which saw more than 500 people responding. Many respondents understood the need to restore the keeping of the roll exercise, but questioned the administration charge, suggested to be in the region of of £30-£40. The exact charge, which will be as low as possible, will be confirmed in due course once the SRA have calculated the costs of reintroducing and administering the process, including associated IT developments. That charge will be kept under review and will be adjusted in future years if costs reduce over time. Solicitors with a practising certificate are already required to confirm their data is accurate and up to date as part of their annual certificate renewals.
Final confirmation of reintroduction is subject to LSB approval.
The closed consultation can be found on the SRA website.