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Who is this application for?
- Non-deemed solicitor/registered European lawyer/registered foreign lawyer managers and/or owners
- Non-solicitor lawyer managers and/or owners
- Non-lawyer managers and/or owners
- ABSs and existing non-lawyer LDPs (only if they will remain within the current parameters for LDPs or Licensed Bodies)
How to apply
Please read our guidance on preparing your application and what you need to know in the tabs above.
Download the Individual Approval application form and guidance notes below. Save the form before you start completing it. The form is designed to be completed electronically (it contains editable fields) then submitted via email. This means that you should not print it to complete it by hand1.
Where to get help
If you have queries about your application, you can email email@example.com or call us on 0121 329 6835.
What happens next
If you have completed your application incorrectly or have forgotten to include information we need, we will contact you. If you do not answer all the relevant questions and provide supporting information, we will return the form to you and will not be able to proceed with your application until you return it to us. If we do not receive the information by the requested deadline, we may assume you wish to withdraw your application and we will write to you on that basis.
Once we approve your application, we will let the firm know via email.
1Unless you require a reasonable adjustment from us.
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Please note that for the SRA to approve an individual as a manager within a firm they must hold the appropriate post. Within the glossary of the SRA Handbook, a manager is defined as
- a member of an limited liability partnership (LLP);
- a director of a company;
- partner of a partnership or
- in relation to any other body, a member of its governing body.
The person must not take up their post until they have received confirmation from us that they are approved.
The approval process will include considering the proposed manager or owner in light of the SRA Suitability Test 2011. We may also undertake validation of the information provided in the Suitability Test.
The SRA's move to outcomes-focused regulation and the new SRA Handbook came into effect on 6 October 2011. Part 5 of the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA) also came into effect on this date. This is the section of the LSA which allows for the introduction of alternative business structures (ABS).
This means that on 6 October 2011, the door to new non-lawyer manager Legal Disciplinary Practices (LDPs) closed and all such bodies are "licensable" and need to apply to us to become authorised as a licensed body (ABS).
If, however, your firm was an existing recognised body which did not comply with rule 13.1(b) of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 on 6 October 2011, (which provided that up to 25 per cent of the body's managers were individual non-lawyers approved by the SRA under regulation 3 of the Recognised Bodies Regulations), it can continue to be treated as a recognised body, until
- it ceases to comply with the management and control requirements set out in the transitional provisions and grace period of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 (rule 22), or
- the end of the grace period under Part 2 of Schedule 5 of the LSA, or until it elects to become a licensed body.
If your firm is covered by the transitional provisions and the grace period set out in rule 22 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 and you would like to apply for non-laywer to be approved as a manager or owner, please complete and send the Individual Approval form for approval of a non-lawyer as suitable to be a manager of a recognised body.
All-lawyer LDPs however, cannot apply for non-lawyers to become managers of their firms. The only avenue for such bodies would be to make an application to become a licensed body (ABS).
Where a person has not been approved firms must not "hold out" persons as managers and/or owners. An individual cannot take up their role as a manager or owner prior to approval.
Typically, we expect to complete consideration of individual manager/owner applications for existing authorised firms within 30 days of receipt of a complete application. In complex cases, or in cases where information needs to be obtained from overseas, decisions will take longer than 30 days. The rules provide for a decision period of six months. We expect that decisions would only take this length of time in the most exceptional circumstances and as a result of extensive investigations. In such cases we would keep the applicant firm informed of the progress of the application.
We recognise that there may be exceptional circumstances where a firm is keen to take on a new manager or owner within a short time period. We would encourage firms to make new manager applications at the earliest possible opportunity. In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to provide "advance approval" to help firm's timetables, even if the individual ultimately does not take up post. For urgent applications, please email the Firm-Based Authorisation team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0121 329 6835. Please note we cannot guarantee that we can process applications within a firm's timescales.
Approval attaches to the firm
Please note that approval of a person (whether or not they are deemed) as a manager or owner attaches to the firm and not to the person: they are not able to "carry" their approval with them to another firm,a such the approval is not transferable. By way of example, if Person X is approved to be a manager of Firm A, and also wishes to be a manager of Firm B, Person X would be required to submit another Advance Notification form (if deemed approved), or an Individual Approval application form (if not deemed approved), or alternatively a Corporate Approval Manager/Owner application form (depending on the circumstances) in respect of Firm B notwithstanding their approval at Firm A. If an individual is in the process of taking up roles at more than one firm within a short space of time they should contact us to discuss how this can best be managed to ensure that a number of approvals are dealt with at the same time.
Taking up post
Once we have approved a lawyer manager and/or owner, that individual has 90 days to take up their post, unless we indicate to the contrary in our decision. If that time has elapsed without the person taking up post, the approval lapses and a fresh application should be made.
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Prior to completing the application form we advise that you read the guidance notes fully and supply the required information at the time of making the applications. Any ineligible or incomplete applications will be returned to applicants.
The term "manager" is defined in the SRA Handbook as a
- director in a company,
- member in a LLP,
- partner in a partnership,
- in relation to any other body, a member of the governing board.
We want to know about the individual including what experience they have of running a firm, their regulatory history and any issues such as whether they have they been associated with a firm/company that was wound up or was disciplined. We could also want to understand their role.
Anyone who is not deemed approved (see rule 13.2 of the Authorisation Rules) must complete the SRA Suitability Test 2011 and therefore it is for the individual and the authorised signatory to ensure that the information is correct. Failure to disclose relevant information may lead to an adverse decision.
We will look at the owners and managers and will consider if they are suitable as an individual and suitable as a group. As such an individual maybe suitable but we may not be satisfied as to the suitability of the group which can be grounds for a refusal.
Where the proposed manager or owner is a non-solicitor lawyer or a lawyer who is not regulated by the SRA and they cannot be deemed approved, we will require a Certificate of Good Standing from the candidate’s home jurisdiction to be supplied with the application form. The certificate must be received by us within three months from the date of issue and must be accompanied by an official translation, if not in the English language. We will require the original certificate of attestation.
We will also require written confirmation of the individual's regulatory history from the approved regulator relating to the candidate. This must be supplied with the application. Please note the SRA may require the applicant to complete an Electronic Criminal Records Checks. Upon receipt of the application a criminal records check link will be sent to the candidate. The application will not be approved until the completed criminal record check is received.