SRA Handbook

Introduction to the Suitability Test

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

Introduction to the Suitability Test

Preamble

Authority: Made on 17 June 2011 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Board under sections 28, 79 and 80 of the Solicitors Act 1974 with the approval of the Legal Services Board under paragraph 19 of Schedule 4 to the Legal Services Act 2007

Date: These regulations came into force on 6 October 2011

Replacing: The SRA guidelines on the assessment of character and suitability

Applicability: Trainee solicitors under the SRA Training Regulations;

Qualified lawyers under the QLTSR;

Those seeking admission as solicitors under the Admission Regulations, fulfilling the duties under section 3 of the Solicitors Act 1974;

Those seeking to become authorised role holders in accordance with rules 8.5 and 8.6 of the SRA Authorisation Rules, and regulation 4.8 of the SRA Practising Regulations;

Those seeking restoration to the roll of solicitors under regulation 8 of the Solicitors Keeping of the Roll Regulations 2011.

Overview

Outcomes-focused regulation concentrates on providing positive outcomes which when achieved will benefit and protect clients and the public. We must ensure that any individual admitted as a solicitor has, and maintains, the level of honesty, integrity and the professionalism expected by the public and other stakeholders and professionals, and does not pose a risk to the public or the profession.

The Suitability Test will apply the same high standards to all those seeking admission or restoration to the roll as a solicitor, as well as legally qualified and non-legally qualified applicants for roles in authorised bodies as authorised role holders.

The test is the same for non-solicitors as they will be working within the profession and must meet the same high standards that the general public expect of solicitors. This document is intended to make it clear to you what this standard is in terms of your character, suitability, fitness and propriety.

No applicant has the automatic right of admission, restoration or authorisation and it will always be for you to discharge the burden of satisfying suitability under this test. Any application that requires us to be satisfied as to character, suitability, fitness and propriety will be determined by reference to this test.

The Principles

The Suitability Test forms part of the Handbook, in which the 10 mandatory Principles are all-pervasive. They apply to all those we regulate and underpin all aspects of practice.

You must:

  1. uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;
  2. act with integrity;
  3. not allow your independence to be compromised;
  4. act in the best interests of each client;
  5. provide a proper standard of service to your clients;
  6. behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;
  7. comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner;
  8. run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;
  9. run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity; and
  10. protect client money and assets.

Outcomes

The outcomes which apply to this test are as follows:

O(SB1)

if you are a solicitor, you are of the required standard of character and suitability;

O(SB2)

if you are an authorised role holder, you are fit and proper; and

O(SB3)

you act so that clients, and the wider public, have confidence that O(SB1) has been demonstrated.

The outcomes, and the criteria that flow from them, apply to all those who are intending to become solicitors - i.e. students, trainee solicitors, and qualified lawyers from other jurisdictions seeking qualification via transfer - at the point of applying for eligibility to commence recognised training, admission, and throughout the pre-qualification period. They also apply to compliance officers, owners, and/or managers at the point of and throughout their period of authorisation, and for former solicitors seeking restoration to the roll.

Interpretation and definitions

1

The SRA Handbook Glossary 2012 shall apply and, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a)

all italicised terms shall be defined; and

(b)

all terms shall be interpreted;

in accordance with the Glossary.

2

In this test, the reference in the preamble to those seeking to become authorised role holders in accordance with rules 8.5 and 8.6 of the SRA Authorisation Rules, fulfilling the duties under Sections 89, 90, 91 and 92 of the LSA shall have no effect until such time as the Society is designated as a licensing authority under Part 1 of Schedule 10 to the LSA.

3

This test shall not apply to licensed bodies until such time as the Society is designated as a licensing authority under Part 1 of Schedule 10 to the LSA and all definitions shall be construed accordingly.

4

Part 2 of this test shall have no effect until such time as the Society is designated as a licensing authority under Part 1 of Schedule 10 to the LSA.

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