LSB approves framework for SRA’s new admission requirements for solicitors


The Legal Services Board (LSB), in accordance with its statutory powers has approved the application of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for amendments to its regulatory arrangements in respect of its authorisation of individuals. The approval is based on the statutory criteria set out in the Legal Services Act 2007.

This approval provides the framework upon which the SRA Board can seek to introduce new requirements for anyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor, including a requirement for individuals to pass a centralised assessment.  It has been made following a thorough consideration of the application and the numerous submissions received in response to it including that of the Justice Select Committee.
The introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) does not automatically follow from today’s approval. The SRA will have to submit and the LSB will have to approve further rules change applications. Approval of this application does not mean any further rule changes will be approved. This will be a new and separate assessment of the rules needed to bring the SQE into effect. The SRA expects to apply to the LSB in 2019 for approval of these further rules, which will contain detail on its proposals for implementing the SQE.
Legal Services Board Chief Executive, Neil Buckley said:

We have today agreed the first stage of the SRA’s reforms to its qualification processes.
The changes that the SRA wishes to make are significant and stakeholders have identified a range of associated risks. We assessed the current approved application thoroughly with these risks in mind and concluded that there are no grounds for refusing this application. 
The approval of this application on its own is not sufficient to allow the SQE to be implemented. The SRA will need to make and we will need to approve further rules changes to give effect to the requirement to pass a centralised exam. When considering these further rules and deciding whether to agree with them, the LSB will expect to see more detail from the SRA – particularly on how the SQE will operate, what it will cost and the likely diversity impacts.

 

ENDS

For further information, please contact the LSB’s Communications Manager, Vincent McGovern (020 7271 0068).

Notes for editors:

  1. The Legal Services Board’s (LSB) decision and other documentation relevant to this application can be found here.
  1. The LSB is required by Part 3 of Schedule 4 of the Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) to review and grant or refuse applications by approved regulators to make alterations to their regulatory arrangements.
  1. The LSB may only refuse an application to alter regulatory arrangements (or introduce new ones) if it is satisfied that one or more of the grounds for refusal in paragraph 25 of Schedule 4, including the ground for refusal set out in paragraph 25(3)(b). In this instance no grounds for refusal have arisen
  1. This application by the SRA seeks to alter its regulatory arrangements in order to introduce a new framework for admission requirements for anyone wishing to qualify as a solicitor..
  1. The Act created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales.  The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
  1. The LSB oversees ten approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners.  The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is an approved regulator for probate       activities only but does not currently authorise anyone to offer this service..

  1. As at 1 April 2017, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 148,690 solicitors, 15,281 barristers, 6,809 chartered legal executives and 5,958 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing.  The UK legal sector turnover was £31 billion per annum (2016) which is up 19% in cash terms since 2012.  For more information see here.

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