SRA mulls end to minimum pay for trainees

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is looking to potentially scrap the minimum pay rates for trainee solicitors.

A consultation, which is due to open tomorrow (13 January 2012), was announced in a SRA board meeting yesterday. The exercise will assess the need for a set annual minimum salary going forward.

In a statement SRA executive director Samantha Barrass said: “We do not regulate prices, including rate of pay, in any other area of our work. We have compared the practice with other professional regulators and found very few examples where this occurs.

“It would appear that setting a minimum salary does not address any identified risk to the public interest or the rule of law, nor is it clear that it improves access to the profession.”

The news comes despite the SRA deciding against axing minimum pay rates in 2007 following a consultation that showed overwhelming support for retaining the status quo (30 May 2007).

The regulator has frozen salary levels for trainees for the last three years, with minimum wages sitting at £18,590 in central London, while the recommended salary for trainees in the capital is also staying put at £19,040 (28 July 2011).

Meanwhile minimum pay for outside London stayed at £16,650, with a recommended salary of £16,940.

The board will spend four months consulting with the profession through focus groups to ensure it has fully considered the potential impact of deregulation. A decision is expected on 16 May 2012.