SRA Handbook

RFLs

Version 21 of the Handbook was published on 6 December 2018. For more information, please click "History" above.

Rule 3: RFLs

Practice in the capacity of an RFL 

3.1

Your practice as a foreign lawyer in the capacity of an RFL is confined to practice as:

(a)

[Deleted]

(b)

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;

(c)

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.

Practice in another capacity than as an RFL 

3.2

If you provide services as a foreign lawyer in any of the following ways in England and Wales or elsewhere, you will not be practising in the capacity of an RFL and you must not be held out or described in that context as an RFL, or as regulated by or registered with the Society or the SRA:

(a)

as a sole principal; or

(b)

as a manager, member or interest holder of any business or organisation other than an authorised body or an authorised non-SRA firm; or

(c)

as a manager, member or interest holder of a body corporate which is a manager, member or interest holder of any business or organisation other than an authorised body or an authorised non-SRA firm; or

(d)

as the employee of any business or organisation other than an authorised body or an authorised non-SRA firm.

3.3

If you have a practice under Rule 3.1 above, and another business under Rule 3.2 above, the latter is a separate business for the purpose of these rules and you must therefore comply with Chapter 12 (Separate businesses) of the SRA Code of Conduct.

Scope of practice

3.4

Whether or not you are practising in the capacity of an RFL you must not:

(a)

be held out in any way which suggests that you are, or are entitled to practise as, a lawyer of England and Wales;

(b)

undertake the following reserved work in England and Wales:

(i)

advocacy in open court;

(ii)

the conduct of court litigation;

(iii)

the administration of oaths and statutory declarations;

(c)

undertake advocacy in chambers in England and Wales, except under instructions given by a person qualified to supervise that reserved work;

(d)

undertake the following reserved work in England and Wales, except at the direction and under the supervision of a person qualified to supervise that reserved work:

(i)

the preparation of court documents;

(ii)

the preparation of instruments and the lodging of documents relating to the transfer or charge of land;

(iii)

the preparation of papers on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration;

(iv)

the preparation of trust deeds disposing of capital, unless you also are eligible to act as a lawyer of England and Wales;

(e)

If you are not practising in the capacity of an RFL you must not carry out immigration work in the UK unless you are entitled to do so by virtue of being a qualified person within the meaning of section 84 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, whether this is as a result of being entitled to do the work in your own right, doing so under supervision, or otherwise.

Guidance notes

(i)

A foreign lawyer must be registered with the SRA as an RFL to be a manager, member or interest holder of a recognised body, with the following exceptions:

(a)

a foreign lawyer who is also qualified as a lawyer of England and Wales does not have to be an RFL;

(b)

a member of an Establishment Directive profession - except that if the lawyer is not a national of an Establishment Directive state and will be based, or partly based, in England and Wales, he or she does have to be an RFL in order to be a manager, member or interest holder of a recognised body. See our website for additional guidance on RFLs and multi-national practice.

(ii)

There is no requirement to register as an RFL in order to be employed by a recognised body or recognised sole practice or to be a manager or interest holder of, or employed by, a licensed body but, if you are registered as an RFL, you will be subject to SRA regulation in this capacity when working for an SRA firm or an authorised non-SRA firm.

(iii)

An RFL is subject to the same restrictions as a solicitor or REL in relation to practice from an office in England and Wales with two exceptions. Your registration as an RFL does not entitle you to practise:

(a)

as an RFL sole practitioner; or

(b)

as an in-house RFL (subject to note (iv) below).

(iv)

Registration as an RFL is portable to the extent that it will enable you to be a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm, although your ability to work within such a firm will depend on the framework of practice requirements of the relevant approved regulator. You will be able to undertake work authorised by the firm's approved regulator (subject to any statutory limitations or requirements). Additionally you will be able to function as an in-house lawyer under Rule 4, doing other work for the employer, related bodies, work colleagues and pro bono clients under the SRA's rules.

(v)

Your registration as an RFL will not be relevant in the role of interest holder or employee of a business in England and Wales which is not regulated by the SRA or one of the other approved regulators. The SRA does not regulate any practice you might have outside the framework established under the LSA, so there must be no implication in such a context that you are an RFL, or that you or the business are regulated by or registered with the SRA or the Society.

(vi)

Where, in order to satisfy statutory requirements, there is a need for an RFL doing reserved work to be supervised or directed by someone in the firm, this can only be undertaken by a person of equivalent or higher status.

(vii)

See the application provisions in 4.2 of the SRA Principles. Also see the provisions relating to practice from an office outside England and Wales in Chapter 13 of the SRA Code of Conduct.

(viii)

See Rule 4.3 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.

(ix)

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).

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