The Legal Services Board (LSB) has agreed to the removal of annual solicitor endorsements for sole practitioners, in a move which the Solicitors Regulation Authority said will simplify arrangements.
The SRA said in July existing processes for authorising sole practitioners should be brought in line with all other firms, to give sole practitioners ‘lifetime’ endorsements.
The LSB has green lighted the changes, which will come into effect on 1 November. The change means sole practitioners no longer need to renew their ‘sole solicitor endorsement’ on their practising certificates every year.
The SRA said in a policy statement sole practitioners need to be on a level playing field with firms and other alternative business structures, and the annual renewal of the endorsement process could be difficult if a sole practitioner was under investigation.
‘By bringing sole practitioners into the same firm-based regulation as other firms, the SRA is able to target regulation more effectively between the individual solicitor and the firm, which could be particularly significant in the case of very large firms run by a sole practitioner. This is a more proportionate way to regulate compared to the current statutory regime.’
SRA executive director of policy Crispin Passmore said ‘These changes will harmonise and simplify regulatory arrangements for sole practitioners, moving away from an annual endorsement and replacing it with a lifetime authorisation which does not need to be renewed annually.’
Last month, the SRA moved forward with a raft of changes to the SRA handbook, including the addition of apprentice pathways and affirmed relaxed rules for Alternative Business Structures.
SRA chief executive Paul Philip said the reforms ‘provide a greater opportunity for a wider range of talented people than ever before to enter the profession.’
The reforms require approval by the LSB which has a deadline of 13 October to consider the issues after which it can make decision or issue an extension.