Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Paying for the Privilege

The cost of a Practising Certificate from  the Solicitors Regulation Authority  (SRA) is £1180 (see page for details) for a  period that starts on 1 November and ends on 31 October

The IP Regulator (IPReg ) charges its fees for the calender year and the requests for payment are just going out. For an individual on both registers the fee was £250. There is also an entity fee. See the Practice Fee Regulations  which is a £100 for a SOLO entity but if you paid  before the rules were established was £500.

If you want to litigate or indulge in other reserved activities then you have no choice but there is a lot in the legal world that is not reserved. Non - contentious IP advice, patent and trademark preparation and filing in the UK are open for all, so we have to ask what is the point of being regulated if you have sophisiticated clients who do not need consumer protection.

Legal Professional Privilege is the only point. If you are happy that communications between you and your client can be disclosed in any subsequent litigation then it does not matter. Howver if your practice is likely to involve giving frank advice as to infringment risks and freedom to operate you might want to keep your privilege. One solution that some members have employed is to act as a consultant to a law firm when working on anything contentious.

The image is in the public domain and has the tag "privilege" which could well be the name of a club in Ibiza. It is quite definitely NOT an image of the IP Regulator.


  1. Thank you very much for this post. I have been waiting anxiously for the entity fees to be published. Having seen what they are, I am a little relieved that SOLOs are not being stung for practising on their own.

    Looking at the Patent Attorney and Trade Mark Attorney Registered Bodies Regulation, though, I note:

    "2.3 Registration under this regulation shall be conditional upon payment of an initial registration fee to be paid by a date set by IPREG...

    2.4 The first renewal date for partnerships and bodies corporate considered registered under this regulation will be 31 December of the year including the commencement date."

    Does this mean that we going to be hit by a double whammy of an initial registration fee AND a renewal fee due in the next 3 weeks?

  2. "Legal Professional Privilege is the only point"

    Surely, the fact that one has gone through strenuous training and passed the tough qualification examinations must matter to some clients?

  3. Hi Chong Yee
    It is a very good point that an unregulated person may well have high qualifications. I seem to spend a lot of my time saying I qualified as a Solicitor but I am not practising as such. The SRA is very aggressive about prosecuting people who pass themselves off as a solicitor so I tend to live in a state of cowering caution.

    I am hopeful someone more confident than I will clarify the fees point

  4. Hi Barbara

    The preparation of deeds relating to the transfer of real or personal property (eg a deed of assignment of IP) is a reserved activity and therefore not open for all.

    I think the intent behind this is that property deeds should be prepared by regulated legal professionals who have paid their practice fees.

    As someone who does pay for practising certificates for all solicitors in the firm, my view is that I should not be put at a competitive disadvantage by allowing unregulated people to do reserved work.

  5. Hi Mark
    I am sympathetic to your view and it would be a level playing field if most of the work were reserved but most patent and trademark attorneys make very little from assignments and indeed it was only relatively recently that they were permitted to do them at all.

    By contrast a firm like Intellectual Property Agency Ltd sends out renewal reminders to trademark holders offering to renew their trademarks for an extortionate fee and there is nothing the IP Regulator or the SRA can do about it. So charging more than £100 for a basic will will get you struck off but charging £980 to pay a £300 renewal fee that is even simpler and the trademark holder could do himself with his own credit card is open busines.
    If I felt that regulation preserved IP practitioners monopoly rights over work it would be a lot easier to stump up the modest fees that are being asked. The problem is that if you are not a litigator there is little benefit to being burdened with regulation.
    End of Rant