The UK Bar Council and the Law Society have spoken up in opposition against a substantial change to practising certificate fee (PCF) rules recently proposed by the Legal Services Board (LSB).
Currently, the majority of what Barristers and solicitors pay in practising fees goes to their regulators, who are then free to spend a limited portion on ‘non-regulatory activities’, such as practice support and law reform work.
However, the LSB are hoping to hit regulators with increased transparency requirements, requesting that all regulators provide “clarity and transparency on the allocation of all the approved regulator’s financial resources, whether or not those resources arise from permitted purposes”.
The Bar Council has suggested that the LSB’s proposals have gone far “beyond their obligations” under the Legal Services Act.
An LSB decision document stated that The Bar Council “sees the introduction of the new rule as an inefficient use of LSB resources, as the rule would mean that the LSB would need ‘to consider extensive detail’ about non-PCF expenditure.”
Additionally, the document revealed that The Law Society had “challenged the LSB’s legal remit in requesting details of an approved regulator’s financial resources arising for non-regulatory permitted purposes and/or arising from non-permitted activities and whether approval of the fee level could be refused based on clarity and transparency of such information”.
In response, the oversight regulator said: “The LSB is aware that an approved regulator engages in activities that are not permitted purposes and are not funded by PCF; we would not be interested in these activities unless they affect the practising fee.”