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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

CLC regulated firms will not face fees increase

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CLC regulated firms will not face fees increase

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The announcment comes following CLC's summer consultation 

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has announced its regulated firms will not suffer any increase in application fees, licence fees and regulatory fee rates in the next year.

The announcement follows an open consultation conducted this summer, which asked firms to respond on five areas: turnover bandings, practice fee rates, compensation fund contribution rates, Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) levy and individual practice certificate cost.

All practices are required to pay the practice fee, OLC levy and compensation fund contribution as a condition of licence.

When consulted on the proposals, respondents were in favour of not making any additional changes to the application fees, licence fees and regulatory fee rates set in 2021. Changes to what practices pay will be due only to a change in the firm’s turnover, or if the number of cases from the firm upheld by the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) has changed.

In 2021, the CLC significantly changed the fees levied on practices. The changes were implemented to ensure transparency and fairness. The changes implemented were:

·       An increased number of turnover bandings from 4 to 9 to enable practices to benefit from lower fee rates as they grow.

·       Reduction of the practice fee rates and exclusion of the Legal Ombudsman charge from the practice fee, which has improved the transparency of fees as the funds are only used for CLC operating expenditure.

·       Implementation of a separate OLC levy to recover the cost of the Legal Ombudsman recharge. The CLC has no control over this charge, which is based on case numbers and costs provided by the Legal Ombudsman. The charge has increased significantly over the last five years, and separating it has increased transparency of costs and increased the focus on complaint handling.

CLC chief executive Sheila Kumar said: “We believe, as a proactive and engaged regulator, it is our job to ensure we fully understand the pressures our firms face and find ways to encourage them to continue to provide a quality, cost effective service to the public.

“We have cut Practice fee rates by more than half over the course of the last seven years, and Compensation Fund contributions have been cut by around half too.

“Against the background of inflation, this year’s freeze is a significant, real-terms cut in fees and fee rates. Keeping the financial burden of regulation to a proportionate level is a key element of the CLC’s commitment to supporting a thriving conveyancing and probate sector responsive to the needs of the client.”

The Legal Services Board approved the CLC practice fee application on 2 November 2022; the approval is available here.

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