Lifetime licenses for sole practitioners’

The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority has announced it could allow sole practitioners to apply for lifetime licenses.

Currently, solicitors who wish to operate as sole practitioners have to apply for their status to be recognised as part of the renewals process every year, whereas other firms only have to be authorised once – effectively receiving "lifetime licences”.

The SRA is now working towards reducing the regulatory burden on sole practitioners by removing the need for them to renew their status annually.

If the change goes ahead, sole practitioners would no longer need to have the "sole solicitor endorsement" condition added to their Practising Certificate, but would still need to apply for a PC, as all solicitors do.

Agnieszka Scott, SRA Director of Policy, said: "Sole practitioners currently have to go through an additional administrative exercise each year that other firms do not. By removing this process, it reduces the regulatory burden by saving solicitors and the SRA time.

"Sole practitioners still need to have a PC, so there are no actual protections added by this piece of bureaucracy. We made a commitment in 2012 to remove unnecessary processes where we could, and this would be another step towards reducing any regulatory burden."

The matter was first examined in 2010 through an SRA consultation and all those who responded were broadly in favour of the move, however, the SRA said ‘other matters required the SRA’s attention at the time.’

The SRA will now await the results of an upcoming Legal Services Board’s consultation on the same issue. Anyone with views on the policy statement can e-mail [email protected]

The policy statement can be accessed here: http://sra.org.uk/sppolicy

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