SRA Handbook

Authorised bodies

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

Rule 5: Authorised bodies

Practice from an office in England and Wales

5.1

An authorised body may practise from an office in England and Wales in the following ways only:

(a)

as a stand-alone firm;

(b)

as a manager, member or interest holder of another authorised body;

(c)

as a manager, member or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm, in which case you must comply with any terms and requirements imposed on that firm's authorisation; or

(d)

as an executor, trustee or nominee company, or a company providing company secretarial services, wholly owned and operated by another authorised body.

Practice from an office outside England and Wales

5.2

An authorised body may practise from an office outside England and Wales in the following ways only:

(a)

as a stand-alone 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;

(b)

as a manager, member or interest holder of a business which has no office in England and Wales and 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 other than the UK, the rules for local lawyers would permit a local lawyer to practise through a business of that composition and structure;

(c)

as an executor, trustee or nominee company, or a company providing company secretarial services, wholly owned and operated by another authorised body.

5.3

Nothing in rule 5.2 above prevents an authorised body from practising through an overseas practice for which it is the responsible authorised body.

Guidance notes

(i)

See Part 3 of these rules for the formation and eligibility criteria for recognised bodies and licensed bodies.

(ii)

Authorised bodies can have a complex structure, involving multi-layered ownership. But note that a partnership cannot be a partner in another partnership which is an authorised body because a partnership does not have separate legal identity (although, as an exception, an overseas partnership with separate legal identity could be a partner in a partnership which is an authorised body).

(iii)

The rules do not prevent an authorised body being a manager, member or interest holder of a recognised body or an authorised non-SRA firm which has an office outside England and Wales.

(iv)

An authorised body may practise through one or more overseas practices, which do not themselves require authorisation by the SRA. However, when considering whether authorisation is required for offices overseas, authorised bodies should consider the activities to be carried on from those offices, and note that rule 8.4 of the SRA Authorisation Rules provides that an authorised body may not carry on an activity unless through a body and individual who is authorised to carry on that activity.

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