As a Data Protection specialist, it seems to me that once you are stricken from the records for non-payment of, to my mind, an exorbitant fee of £20 for not removing your name from the roll, you should submit an annual Data Subject Access Request which will undoubtedly cost more than £20 to process and thereby nullify the entire process.

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Not content with the inadequate explanation of the SRAs intentions, I asked if the fee is annual, and if so, what will happen to my Roll record when I am dead - I received the following reply…

“ We will be carrying out the keeping of the roll exercise annually and yes this will include payment of the fee.

Please note that when any solicitor passes away, we would ask to be informed so that we can update our records with details of the date of their passing and we then proceed to wipe the record.

We understand this may appear to be seen as evaporating your professional career history but that is by no means our intention, it is purely so that we can ensure are systems do not hold out of date information about solicitors.

The removal of solicitors data from our records upon your death would not in any way undermine your time and work as a solicitor it is simply so that our system records remain robust.”

How does the retention of Roll records prevent them from remaining “robust”? Why do they want the date of death of a solicitor, and then “proceed to wipe the record”? “Out of date” records seems to include all trace of solicitors of old.

Most occupations “robustly” preserve individual data, for example, those who bravely served in the Royal Navy at Trafalgar, and those who, like my great uncle were killed in action during WW1. And what of data on Prime Ministers over the centuries? Are their records also to be “wiped”? No because the institutions that employed them see the historical significance in preservation of their records.

It seems the SRA regard the “wiping” of records more important than historical significance. I assume that solicitors of centuries gone by will be wiped from legal history too…

I’m not going to pay annually and, like it or not, I will die. How sad that my descendants’ and others who might be interested, may not be able to look into my professional life if they enjoy ancestry as I do…that will be “wiped”.

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The discussion here is much about framed certificates. My admission certificate (also signed by Denning albeit a little older than Joshua's) was hung in the loo for many years. When Denning replied I sent my good wishes and told him of the exulted location of the certificate. He sent a charming reply back. Unfortunately both the certificate and his reply back have now disappeared into a black hole. Fortunately I still have a practising certificate so I have not been "cancelled" yet!

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The Law Society and the SRA have lost the plot.

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Like Graham Dobson, my final very fulfilling years of practice were at Dennings, then in Tipton in the -in many ways- commonsensical time warp and double speak resistant Black Country.

Graham and Joshua are privileged at least to have been informed of this demotion as I certainly see it in status and reputation. I have yet to receive any notification.

I had been alerted to this proposal by- in fact Graham- the Solicitors Regulation Authority and NOT the Law Society, where at least the one President made representations to the SRA AGAINST this. I also produced detailed arguments against it to the SRA.

In truth I see this as a money spinner for the SRA, first and foremost, since it is INCONCEIVABLE that keeping my particulars on the Roll might cost that particular behemoth anything remotely like £20 a throw, let alone per year and in any event, from its point of view,as an uncovenanted bonus it puts me in my place.

On my study wall I have a framed certificate from the then Law Society’s President Joe Egan dated the first of December 2017 congratulating me on fifty years on the Roll of Solicitors. I am entitled to be proud of that. The New Zealand approach seems to me more measured and - yes- civilised.

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I too received the same but by email. At that moment I felt that such a momentous event ought to have been by a letter, on the same paper, in the same format as my Denning signed Admission Certificate - and hand delivered by a liveried servant of the Society.

I hope it’s a one off payment, or what will happen when I am dead?

Unlike you, I practised as a Solicitor from early 1977 until I gave notice of non-renewal of my practising certificate in 2012. Since then I’ve proudly described myself as a “retired Solicitor”, as advised by the Law Society. I have retained many of my practising certificates and my last is displayed in a frame on my study wall. A colleague displayed his on his toilet wall, as he felt that more fitting.

I foresee my life as a Solicitor being wiped from the Society’s history, or “cancelled” in modern usage. I am horrified at the Society’s decision. And to use the law on data retention as an excuse to wipe history - if I fail to pay £20, to me, is unprofessional. Why not just ask permission to retain it, if that is what the data retention law requires? What of my slim pocket file which they hold? Will that be incinerated?

I’m no expert in data law and have no wish to begin. But hasn’t the society a duty to keep a record of who was on the Roll?

Will the ultimate public record of my unblemished life as a Solicitor evaporate if I don’t pay? The society (now lower case because of this) which decided

- if I was fit to be a student,

- set my exams and decided if I passed,

- determined the terms of my Articles,

- decided if I was a “fit and proper person” to be Admitted,

- for decades decided if my conduct and training was adequate,

and over the years took not insubstantial sums from me, now decides that my name is to be wiped from the Roll, if I fail to pay a fee.

Joshua, I admire your reserved response. Mrs Dobson described the society’s decision as a “damn cheek”! Maybe my colleague was right to display his Certificate where he did.

Denning would be drafting the headings of his Judgement in this matter...

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In New Zealand a solicitor without a practising certificate may call themself an "enrolled solicitor", & witness oaths & declarations as an "enrolled solicitor", but not carry out certain reserved functions such as conveyancing which only the holder of a practising certificate may do. There is no annual fee for persons not holding an annual practising certificate.-Ross Sutherland

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The postnominal FNPS might evolve into a fashionable cachet.

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