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The SGM and the new fees

18 September 06

Reasons behind the proposed increase in the practising certificate fee

The Society’s Special General Meeting, held every year to approve the cost of the coming year’s practising certificate will take place on 29 September, at Drumsheugh Gardens. The meeting will consider a motion proposing that the fee rises by £100 to £635 for 2006-07. If agreed, the new fee would apply from 1 November.

Council Member and Society treasurer, Jamie Millar, has written to members setting out the reasons for the proposed increase.

He explained: “I realise that this is a significant increase but it has been on the cards for some time. The potential for a significant increase in next year’s practising certificate was first highlighted at this year’s Annual General Meeting on 17 March due to the challenges facing the Society and its recent operational deficit.

“These challenges have become even greater due to costs arising from the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill, the Clementi Report, and legal aid reform as well as the increasing scrutiny which the Society faces in many other areas.”

He added that a number of other factors have also been taken into account, including:

    refurbishment costs to ensure the Society’s office complies with health and safety and disability legislation;

    increased contributions to the pension scheme to reduce its deficit;

    increased corporate communications costs to meet the challenges highlighted above, which are expected to intensify;

    the rising cost of regulation, for instance in prosecuting increasingly complex cases before the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal.

The budget also includes the cost of managing the full complaints function well into 2007.

The practising certificate fee remains low in comparison with that payable by solicitors in other parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The cost of a practising certificate for England and Wales is currently double the cost of the Scottish practising certificate.