SRA Handbook

Authorisation applications and decision period

Version 19 of the Handbook was published on 1 October 2017. For more information, please click "History" above.

Part 2: Authorisation applications and decision period

Rule 4: Applications for authorisation

4.1

A licensable body, a legal services body or a sole practitioner may make an application for authorisation in accordance with these rules.

4.2

[Deleted]

4.3

The SRA may grant the application in relation to one or more reserved legal activity.

4.4

An application by a licensable body, a legal services body or a sole practitioner for authorisation must notify the SRA of the practising address and, where different, the registered address, of any overseas practices for which it would, if authorised, be the responsible authorised body.

Rule 5: Decision period

5.1

The SRA must:

(a)

decide an authorisation application;

(b)

notify the applicant of its decision;

(c)

if it decides to refuse the application, set out in the notice the reasons for the refusal;

before the end of the decision period.

5.2

The decision period is the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which the application is made to the SRA in accordance with these rules.

5.3

The SRA may, on one occasion, give the applicant a notice (an "extension notice") extending the decision period by a period specified in the notice.

5.4

But:

(a)

an extension notice must only be given before the time when the decision period would end, but for the extension notice; and

(b)

the total decision period must not exceed 9 months.

5.5

An extension notice must set out the reasons for the extension.

Guidance notes

(i)

See Rule 2.2 above for when an application is made.

(ii)

The SRA will extend the period for making a decision if it considers this necessary for the proper consideration of the application (see paragraph 2 of Schedule 11 to the LSA).

(iii)

The means of notice or notification can include any form of written electronic communication normally used for business purposes, such as emails.

Rule 6: Determination of authorisation applications

6.1

The SRA will determine applications for authorisation, so far as is reasonably practicable, in a way:

(a)

which is compatible with the regulatory objectives including the objective of improving access to justice; and

(b)

which the SRA considers most appropriate for the purpose of meeting those objectives.

6.2

The SRA may only grant an application for authorisation if the conditions in (a) to (e) below are met:

(a)

if it is an application for recognition as a recognised body, the applicant is a legal services body;

(b)

if it is an application for recognition as a recognised sole practice, the applicant:

(i)

is a solicitor or REL;

(ii)

will be practising as a sole practitioner from an office in England and Wales; and

(iii)

is not, and is not about to be made, subject to a condition on his or her practising certificate which would prohibit practice as a sole practitioner;

(c)

if it is an application for a licence, the applicant is a licensable body;

(d)

if it is a partnership or sole principal, the applicant has adopted a name under which it is to be registered, and which complies with Chapter 8 (Publicity) of the SRA Code of Conduct; and

(e)

the SRA is satisfied that upon authorisation, the authorised body will be in compliance with the following rules:

(i)

SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules ;

(ii)

SRA Compensation Fund Rules ;

(iii)

Rule 8.5 (compliance officers), including any necessary approval of a candidate under Part 4;

(iv)

Rule 8.6 (management and control) including any necessary approval of a candidate under Part 4; and

(v)

Rules 15 (Formation, registered office and practising address), 16 (Composition of an authorised body) and 12 (Persons who must be "qualified to supervise") of the SRA Practice Framework Rules.

6.3

Notwithstanding that the conditions in 6.2 are met, the SRA may refuse an application for authorisation if:

(a)

it is not satisfied that the applicant's managers and interest holders are suitable, as a group, to operate or control a business providing regulated legal services;

(b)

in the case of an application for recognition as a recognised sole practice, it is not satisfied that the applicant is suitable to operate and control a business providing regulated legal services;

(c)

it is not satisfied that the applicant's management or governance arrangements are adequate to safeguard the regulatory objectives;

(d)

it is not satisfied that if the authorisation is granted, the applicant will comply with the SRA's regulatory arrangements including these rules and any conditions imposed on the authorisation;

(e)

the applicant has provided inaccurate or misleading information in its application or in response to any requests by the SRA for information;

(f)

the applicant has failed to notify the SRA of any changes in the information provided in the application in accordance with Rule 3; or

(g)

for any other reason, the SRA considers that it would be against the public interest or otherwise inconsistent with the regulatory objectives to grant authorisation.

6.4

In reaching a decision under this rule, the SRA will take into account all the circumstances which the SRA considers to be relevant including, for the avoidance of doubt,

(a)

any relevant information regarding:

(i)

the applicant, if it is an application for recognition as a recognised sole practice, or a manager, employee or interest holder of the applicant;

(ii)

any persons that such an applicant, manager, employee or interest holder is related to, affiliated with, or acts together with where the SRA has reason to believe that such persons may have an influence over the way in which the applicant, manager, employee or interest holder will exercise their role;

(b)

any failure or refusal to disclose, or attempts to conceal relevant information; and

(c)

if it is an application for recognition as a recognised sole practice, whether the applicant has sufficient skills or knowledge in relation to the operation and control of a business which provides regulated legal services.

Guidance notes

(i)

In considering applications the SRA must comply with the regulatory objectives. Relevant information will therefore be construed widely and the SRA will take account of a broad range of factors. These will include not only issues relevant to the Part 4 approval process, but also factors such as the applicant's business and governance proposals.

(ii)

Where information is provided in respect of an application, the SRA will consider this to be misleading if, despite the fact that the information is accurate, there is a material omission.

(iii)

View the forms, SRA Suitability Test and the decision making criteria.

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