With the announcement that there are almost half of solicitors yet to renew, if you’re wondering what to do with the forms, some context might help.
The SRA is asking for information about your turnover, your claims, etc because these are risk indicators. The information they receive feeds in to the risk score for your firm. This is loosely based on the above diagram (the diagram above can be altered -ie. more or less boxes of any colour, depending on the SRA’s ‘risk appetite’). The risk management process allows the SRA to decide where to place their limited resources; based on which activities are more risky than others. This is supposed to be a justifiable means of allocating their supervisory and enforcement time and attention. Whether it works or not is another debate, but I would expect the SRA’s sophistication in this area to increase with the appointment of noted risk based regulation academic, Julia Black, to their Board.
You do not have access to your risk score, but I would think it would be quite easy to work out roughly where you are based on the attention you receive from the SRA and your profile compared to other firms. Of course, the SRA always have additional sources of intelligence so you can never be certain.
In the future, the renewal will be replaced by an information return which will provide the information for your risk score.
The reason for the slightly terse emails and reminders about the renewals is because every year many people do not fill in the PC and firm renewal forms, and they ignore requests from the SRA for the missing information. This puts the SRA in a difficult position – do they revoke the authorisation of these firms? At the very least they have to expend extra resources on chasing up the data. If you don’t fill out the form fully, or you haven’t nominated a COLP or COFA, I would expect you will receive attention in the New Year. The SRA is placing a greater emphasis on co-operation than it did previously.
Of course, some will delay completing the forms in order to delay payment. The economic climate doesn’t help.
And before anyone asks, yes, it is ridiculous that all of the forms are sent in at the same time.
Disclaimer: This post is the subjective view of the author and does not constitute advice.