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As an approved regulator and licensing authority for probate services, our activities are guided by and support the Legal Services Board's strategic themes: fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services, to strengthen trust and protect the public by enabling, evaluating and enforcing the highest standards in the profession.

Recognising inflationary pressures and to continue to deliver our ongoing programme of activity to fulfil these objectives and those of the Legal Services Act, we propose to increase probate registration fees by 7% for 2023.

Consultation

We welcome your views on this proposed change to probate registration fees for 2023. Please review the information on this page including the 2023 budget, business plan and the 2023 fee scale which sets out the impact of the change.

This consultation is open from 22 July to 16 September 2022.

How we set the probate registration fees

The review of probate registration fees begins in June each year. The strategic and operational priorities are discussed with the ICAEW Regulatory Board and a business plan and budget to deliver these are developed.

ICAEW operates a self-financing principle (also known as the "user pays approach"), which ensures all probate registration income is used for probate specific "permitted purposes". Permitted purposes are prescribed regulatory activities as listed in Rule 6 of the Legal Services Board’s Practising Fee Rules. These permitted purposes are described in detail in the document What your fee pays for and include for example application and registration, policy and education, monitoring and conduct.

The detailed budget estimates and analyses costs to deliver the plan including for example, staff, insurance, legal, project, office and overhead costs, and contributions required to fund other activities such as the Legal Services Board and Legal Choices website. The total cost of operations is then compared to our registered population of firms to ensure that income then matches expected expenditure.

The proposed new levels of registration fees are agreed by the ICAEW Regulatory Board.

We consult with probate registered firm representatives for feedback on the proposed fee increase and level. The fees are adjusted as appropriate in response to feedback received. (In 2021 there was no fee increase, and for 2022 there was a 5% fee increase.)

The fee increase proposal must then be approved by the Legal Services Board under its Practising Fee Rules. This involves a detailed application process including sharing the strategy and priorities, budget and details of any fee changes. This application is published by the Legal Services Board.

In November the full probate registration fee scale is published at icaew.com/regulatoryfees and registration renewals are then sent by email to firms.

We continue to carefully consider strategic, operational and oversight needs and associated funding and set the level of registration fees and levies as cost effectively as possible and on a year-to-year basis. 

Fees may need to continue to rise in future years particularly considering inflation and the requirements placed on our organisation by the LSB. This will ensure that costs of regulatory operations, ‘permitted purposes’, are funded by an appropriate level of registration fees. We will, of course, consult about any such changes each year.

Annual firm levy

The annual levy funds the operation and building of a reserved legal services compensation scheme fund. The levy for 2023 is unchanged from 2022.

Reserves

As part of its financial strategy, ICAEW holds reserves to provide financial strength, and as mitigation against unexpected events.

The level of probate reserves is specifically targeted as not to be too high or too low. The policy is therefore ‘reserves should be set at a level equivalent to between three and six months of expenditure through the income statement; and cash and investment balances should be at least sufficient to cover between three and six months of annual budgeted/forecast gross cash expenditure’.

Current reserves are in line with policy and therefore there is no requirement or element of 2023 fees which plans to draw on reserves or increase reserves.

Business plan and feedback to firms on 2022 activities

Building on the firm foundation of our work in previous years, our probate activities in 2022 have been busy and focused on the following key areas which the fees, and the 2022 increase has also helped facilitate:

Ensuring that the Professional Standards Department is best set up to deliver legal services regulation

  • Ensuring regulated firms deliver a good service and investigation of complaints
  • Improvements in firms' transparency
  • Development of policy
  • Development of systems including the launch and ongoing operation of the disciplinary and regulatory penalties searchable online database alongside the probate register of firms.
  • Support in terms of both resource and financial contribution in relation to Legal Choices website development and future plans.
  • Maintenance of the compensation scheme arrangements.
  • Updates to the disciplinary by-laws and regulatory handbook. 
  • Updates to the firm Annual Return related to eg, PII
  • Consultations issued and responded to
  • Probate News, Regulatory and Conduct News and our LinkedIn channel keeps our firms and wider community informed. 
  • Initiation of the ‘Future of reserved legal services regulation’ research 

Budget 2023

The budget for 2023 is targeted to self-finance and make a small surplus of £14k to return, over time, the start-up costs of becoming a regulator and licensing authority. Cost have largely increased due to inflation and salary increases, and also costs in relation to policy and governance have increased due to Legal Services Board requests for further administrative processes, consultations, and information returns.

£ including comp scheme 2023 Budget
Income: Registration fees
Income: Regulatory penalties
636,853
6,031

642,884
Income: Levy
Cost: Levy
107,242
(107,242)

0
Cost: Staff
Cost: Strategic projects
Cost: Insurance (or scheme top up)
Cost: Committee and board
Cost: Travel
Cost: Design, surveys, consultations
Cost: Office
(417,042)
(95,000)
(68,000)
(39,333)
(4,460)
(2,340)
(2,252)






(628,427)
Surplus: Return in investment 14,457

Budgeted income is largely related to firm registration and licensing annual registration fees. All income is raised specifically for reserved legal services permitted purposes only. The levy income flows through the income statement to build the compensation scheme. Committee and board costs relate to the ICAEW Regulatory Board and the Probate Committee. Operational costs are in the main related to registration, regulatory, policy, quality assurance and conduct staff. Projects includes a contribution to fund the Legal Choices website.

£cost of operations analysis 2023 Budget

Staff
Committee
Comp scheme insurance / tfr
Projects incl. Legal Choices
Design and surveys
QAD review travel
Office

(417,042)
(39,333)
(68,000)
(95,000)
(2,340)
(4,460)
(2,252)






(628,427)

Regulatory, policy and engagement
Registration and supervision
Discipline and conduct
Governance and insurance
Education, research and projects
Activity
30%
24%
6%
22%
18%

(188,528)
(150,822)
(37,706)
(138,254)
(113,117)

The analysis above provides further details on expenditure analysed by cost type and by function. 

Also provided is an estimate of anticipated cost related to key activity types. As staff, committee and projects costs make up a significant proportion of the cost base, this is largely based on a ‘time spent’ basis.

Each of the legal services regulators is required to make contributions on behalf of those they regulate and supervise. In 2023, ICAEW is planning to contribute:

  • £11k to the Legal Services Board (1.75% of total expenditure)
  • £5k to the Legal Ombudsman (0.8% of total expenditure)
  • £35k to Legal Choices (5.5% of total expenditure)
Return on investment £k £k
Application and set-up costs (170) (170)
P&L surplus
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022 forecast
2023 budgeted

23
15
15
17
12
14
14







110
Outstanding to be returned in future years
(60)

£14,457 is targeted as a surplus in 2023 as a contribution to return the start-up costs of becoming a regulator and licensing authority. It is estimated that the outstanding balance will be cleared in four years (December 2027).

Registration fees

The tables below compare the 2022 registration fees to the proposed 2023 registrations fees and show the impact of a 7% increase in each category.

2022 registration fees

Authorised firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 11+
Sole 375 653 1,147
2 - 5 653 1,147 2,014
6 - 9 1,147 2,014 3,534
10 - 50 2,014 3,534 6,201
51+ 4,028 7,070 12,404

Licensed firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 11+
Sole 375 653 1,147
2 - 5 1,306 3,438 8,055
6 - 9 2,292 6,041 14,138
10 - 50 4,028 10,604 24,807
51+ 8,055 21,208 49,614

2023 registration fees

Authorised firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 11+
Sole 401 699 1,227
2 - 5 699 1,227 2,155
6 - 9 1,227 2,155 3,781
10 - 50 2,155 3,781 6,635
51+ 4,310 7,565 13,272

Licensed firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 11+
Sole 401 699 1,227
2 - 5 1,397 3,679 8,619
6 - 9 2,452 6,464 15,128
10 - 50 4,310 11,346 26,543
51+ 8,619 22,693 53,087

2023: impact of 7% change

Authorised firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 11+
Sole +26 +46 +80
2 - 5 +46 +80 +141
6 - 9 +80 +141 +247
10 - 50 +141 +247 +434
51+ +282 +495 +868

Licensed firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 11+
Sole +26 +46 +80
2 - 5 +91 +241 +564
6 - 9 +160 +423 +990
10 - 50 +282 +742 +1,736
51+ +564 +1,485 +3,473

The levies for 2023 are unchanged from 2022:

Authorised firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 10+
Sole 99 135 183
2 - 5 135 183 250
6 - 9 183 250 340
10 - 50 250 340 463
50+ 499 677 924

Licensed firm

Principals Offices
  1 2 - 10 10+
Sole 99 135 183
2 - 5 269 547 997
6 - 9 364 748 1,354
10 - 50 499 1,017 1,847
50+ 997 2,031 3,692
Useful links

Please make use of the following resources to ensure you are up-to-date with the latest regulatory information and news: