SRA Handbook

Solicitors

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

Rule 1: Solicitors

Practice from an office in England and Wales

1.1

You may practise as a solicitor from an office in England and Wales in the following ways only:

(a)

as a sole practitioner of a recognised sole practice;

(b)

as a solicitor exempted under Rule 10.2 from the obligation for the solicitor's practice to be a recognised sole practice;

(c)

as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an authorised body provided that all work you do is:

(i)

of a sort the body is authorised by the SRA to carry out; or

(ii)

done for the body itself, or falls within Rule 4.1 to 4.11, and where this sub-paragraph applies, references in Rule 4 to "employer" shall be construed as referring to that body, accordingly;

(d)

as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm, provided that all work you do is:

(i)

reserved legal activity of a sort the firm is authorised by the firm's approved regulator to carry out or any other activity that is not precluded by the terms of your authorisation from the firm's approved regulator; or

(ii)

done for the firm itself, or falls within Rule 4.1 to 4.11, and where this sub-paragraph applies, references in Rule 4 to "employer" shall be construed as referring to that firm, accordingly;

(e)

as the employee of another person, business or organisation, provided that you undertake work only for your employer, or as permitted by Rule 4 (In-house practice).

Practice from an office outside England and Wales

1.2

You may practise as a solicitor from an office outside England and Wales in the following ways only:

(a)

as a sole practitioner;

(b)

as the employee of a sole principal who is a lawyer;

(c)

as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an authorised body or of an authorised non-SRA firm, provided that if any of the body's managers or interest holders are non-lawyers and the office is in an Establishment Directive state other than the UK, the rules for local lawyers would permit a local lawyer to practise through a business of that composition and structure;

(d)

as an employee of a business which is not required to be an authorised body, provided that it meets all the following conditions:

(i)

the business carries on the provision of legal advice or assistance, or representation in connection with the application of the law or resolution of legal disputes;

(ii)

a controlling majority of the managers and the interest holders are lawyers practising as such and/or bodies corporate in which lawyers practising as such constitute a controlling majority of the managers and interest holders;

(iii)

if any of the business's managers or interest holders are non-lawyers and any manager or interest holder is subject to the rules for local lawyers, the composition and structure of the business complies with those rules; and

(iv)

if any of the business's managers or interest holders are non-lawyers and the office is in an Establishment Directive state, the rules for local lawyers would permit a local lawyer to practise through a business of that composition and structure;

(e)

as manager, member or interest holder of a business which is not required to be an authorised body, provided that it has no office in England and Wales, and that it meets all the conditions set out in sub-paragraph (d)(i) to (iv) above;

(f)

as the employee of another person, business or organisation, provided that you undertake work only for your employer, or as permitted by Rule 4.22 to 4.25 (In-house practice overseas);

(g)

as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an overseas practice.

Guidance notes

(i)

See also Rules 10 (Sole practitioners), 13 (Eligibility criteria and fundamental requirements for recognised bodies and recognised sole practices), 14 (Eligibility criteria and fundamental requirements for licensed bodies), 15 (Formation, registered office and practising address), 16 (Composition of an authorised body) and 17 (Authorised bodies which are companies) below, Chapter 13 of the SRA Code of Conduct (Application and waivers provisions) and the SRA Practising Regulations.

(ii)

See Rule 4.3 below and the definition of "in-house practice" in the Glossary, in relation to in-house work that you carry out for clients which is outside of your firm's authorisation.

(iii)

A recognised body which is a company may not have a corporate director (this also applies to a licensed body). However, when permitted, a corporate body owner and/or manager of a recognised body will need to be a legally qualified body (see the Glossary).

(iv)

The rules do not prevent a solicitor establishing, for example, their own company for tax purposes (which is itself a recognised body) so that that company can be a corporate manager of another firm through which the solicitor practises.

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