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I am cancelled
Or removed. But not struck off
The message, when it came this morning, was stark, bureaucratic and more than a little bizarre:
Readers will know that I have been expecting this for some time. I explained in March why I thought it wrong that the regulator was now requiring me to pay an annual fee of £20 when I would receive no benefit whatsoever. That argument was subsequently “rebutted” by the the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
I did indeed receive a final warning on 12 June. But I was not being struck off, the regulator said a few days later. I was not a solicitor losing a professional qualification; I was merely a customer being removed from a database after an “overwhelmingly positive” process. So that’s all right, then.
Why, though, do I find today’s email message bizarre?
First, it tells me, I can “no longer work as a solicitor”. But, as the regulator knows perfectly well, I have never been allowed to work as a solicitor. That is because I have never applied for a practising certificate. And that, in turn, is because I went into journalism after completing my two-year training period.
Secondly, it says I shall have to pay the arbitrary and previously unannounced sum of £34 if I wait six months before asking to be restored to the roll. It’s perfectly true that the longer I wait the more opportunity I shall have to do something disreputable. But my “background” is unlikely to change next January.
And what does the regulator know about my background anyway? The last time I was asked to account for myself by the then regulator was in 1970.
Of course, this isn’t about me. This is about the thousands of respected professionals who have retired with dignity after a lifetime of service to their clients and cannot justify spending £20 a year for the privilege of calling themselves non-practising solicitors.
They have lost nothing by having to add the word “former” to their status. But profession has lost a great deal more by telling them — without a word of thanks — that their hard-won qualifications are now worth nothing at all.
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