SRA Handbook

Framework of practice

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

Part 1: Framework of practice

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.

Rule 2: RELs

Practice from an office in England and Wales
2.1

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

(a)

as a sole practitioner of a recognised sole practice;

(b)

as an REL exempted under Rule 10.2 from the obligation for the REL'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 firm 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);

(f)

as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an Exempt European Practice, provided that you meet the conditions set out under Rule 4.20 (a), (b) and (c).

Practice from an office in Scotland or Northern Ireland
2.2

You may practise as an REL from an office in Scotland or Northern Ireland 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;

(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; and

(iii)

if any of the business's managers or interest holders are non-lawyers, the professional rules governing a solicitor of that jurisdiction would allow such a solicitor 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 or is an Exempt European Practice, and that it meets all the conditions set out in sub-paragraph (d)(i) to (iii) above and that you meet the conditions set out under Rule 4.20 (a), (b) and (c);

(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)

The overseas provisions for an REL are the same as those for a solicitor practising overseas except that they apply only in Scotland and Northern Ireland. RELs are not subject to Rule 2 in relation to practice from an office outside the UK.

(ii)

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.

(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 an REL 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 REL practises.

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).

Rule 4: In-house practice

4.1

If you are a solicitor, REL or RFL conducting in-house practice:

(a)

you must not act for clients other than your employer except in the circumstances in 4.4 to 4.26 (all of which are subject to 4.1(b) and 4.2) and where you are able to act without compromising the Principles or your obligations under the SRA Code of Conduct;

(b)

nothing in this rule permits any person to conduct reserved legal activities in circumstances where to do so would require authorisation under the LSA and you must satisfy yourself that any such authorisation is in place before conducting any such activity.

4.1A

If your in-house practice comprises:

(a)

employment in a body within England and Wales, rules 4.2 to 4.18 and 4.26 apply to you;

(b)

employment in a foreign law firm which is not an overseas practice, rules 4.19 to 4.21 apply to you; and

(c)

employment in a body overseas, including where you are practising overseas, rules 4.22 to 4.25 apply to you.

4.2

Indemnity

(a)

In order to act for a client other than your employer under Rule 4.10, 4.14, 4.16 and 4.19, you must have professional indemnity insurance cover.

(b)

In all other cases you must consider whether your employer has appropriate indemnity insurance or funds to meet any award made as a result of a claim in professional negligence against you, for which your employer might be vicariously liable. If not, you must inform the client in writing that you are not covered by the compulsory insurance scheme.

4.3

If you are a solicitor, REL or RFL in a licensed body or an authorised non-SRA firm, you must comply with this rule as if you were an in-house solicitor or REL when, as a manager or employee, you do work of a type which is outside the scope of the firm's authorisation in accordance with Rules 1, 2 or 3, either for the firm itself or within 4.4 to 4.6 (Work colleagues), 4.7 to 4.9 (Related bodies) or 4.10 to 4.11 (Pro bono work).

Work colleagues
4.4

Subject to Rule 4.5 below, you may act for a person who is, or was formerly:

(a)

an employee, a manager, the company secretary, a board member or a trustee of your employer;

(b)

an employee, a manager, the company secretary, a board member or a trustee of a related body of your employer; or

(c)

a contributor to a programme or periodical publication, broadcast or published by your employer or by a related body, but only where the contributor is a defendant or potential defendant in a defamation case.

4.5

You may act under Rule 4.4 above only if:

(a)

the matter relates to and arises out of the work of the employee, manager, company secretary, board member, trustee or contributor in that capacity;

(b)

the matter does not relate to a claim arising as a result of a personal injury to the employee, manager, company secretary, board member, trustee or contributor;

(c)

you are satisfied that the employee, manager, company secretary, board member, trustee or contributor does not wish to instruct some other lawyer; and

(d)

no charge is made for your work unless those costs are recoverable from another source.

4.6

Where acting in a conveyancing transaction under Rule 4.4(a) or (b) above you may also act for a joint owner or joint buyer of the property and for a mortgagee.

Related bodies
4.7

You may act for:

(a)

your employer's holding, associated or subsidiary company;

(b)

a partnership, syndicate, LLP or company by way of joint venture in which your employer and others have an interest;

(c)

a trade association of which your employer is a member; or

(d)

a club, association, pension fund or other scheme operated for the benefit of employees of your employer.

4.8

If you are employed in local government, Rule 4.7(a) and (b) above do not apply.

4.9

For the purpose of Rule 4.10 to 4.14 references to your employer include related bodies of the employer, and "employment" and "employed" must be construed accordingly.

Pro bono work
4.10

You may, in the course of your practice, conduct work on a pro bono basis for a client other than your employer provided:

(a)

the work is covered by an indemnity reasonably equivalent to that required under the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules;

(b)

either:

(i)

no fees are charged; or

(ii)

a conditional fee agreement is used and the only fees charged are those which you receive by way of costs from your client's opponent or other third party and all of which you pay to a charity under a fee sharing agreement; and

(c)

you do not undertake any reserved legal activities, unless the provision of relevant services to the public or a section of the public (with or without a view to profit) is not part of your employer's business.

4.11

Rule 4.10 above does not permit you to conduct work on a pro bono basis in conjunction with services provided by your employer under Rule 4.12 (Associations), Rule 4.13 (Insurers), Rule 4.14 (Commercial legal advice services) or Rule 4.19 to 4.21 (Foreign law firms).

Associations
4.12

If you are employed by an association you may act for a member of that association provided:

(a)

the membership of the association is limited to persons engaged or concerned in a particular trade, occupation or specialist activity or otherwise having a community of interest, such interest being a specialist interest;

(b)

the association is one formed bona fide for the benefit of its members and not formed directly or indirectly for your benefit or primarily for securing assistance in legal proceedings;

(c)

there is no charge to the member in non-contentious matters, and in contentious matters the association indemnifies the member in relation to your costs and disbursements insofar as they are not recoverable from any other source; and

(d)

you act only in matters that relate to or arise out of the particular trade, occupation or specialist activity of the association or otherwise relate to the specialist community of interest, for which the association is formed.

Insurers
4.13

If you are employed by an insurer subrogated to the rights of an insured in respect of any matter you may act on behalf of the insurer in relation to that matter in the name of the insured, and also:

(a)

act on behalf of the insured in relation to uninsured losses in respect of the matter;

(b)

act in proceedings both for the insured and for a defendant covered by another insurer where the insurers have agreed an apportionment of liability; and/or

(c)

act in the matter on behalf of the employer and another insurer in the joint prosecution of a claim.

Commercial legal advice services
4.14

If you are employed by a commercial organisation providing a telephone legal advice service you may advise persons making enquiries of that organisation, provided:

(a)

the advice comprises telephone advice only, together with a follow up letter to the enquirer when necessary;

(b)

you are satisfied that there is indemnity cover reasonably equivalent to that required under the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules; and

(c)

you do not undertake any reserved legal activities.

Local government
4.15

If you are employed in local government you may act:

(a)

for another organisation or person to which or to whom the employer is statutorily empowered to provide legal services, subject to the conditions in (b) to (g) below;

(b)

for a member or former member of the local authority, provided that:

(i)

the matter relates to or arises out of the work of the member in that capacity;

(ii)

the matter does not relate to a claim arising as a result of a personal injury to the member;

(iii)

you are satisfied that the member does not wish to instruct some other lawyer; and

(iv)

no charge is made for your work unless those costs are recoverable from some other source;

(c)

for a company limited by shares or guarantee of which:

(i)

the employer or nominee of the employer is a shareholder or guarantor; or

(ii)

you are, or an officer of the employer is, appointed by the employer as an officer of the company,

provided the employer is acting in pursuance of its statutory powers;

(d)

for lenders in connection with new mortgages arising from the redemption of mortgages to the local authority, provided:

(i)

neither you nor any other employee acts on behalf of the borrowers; and

(ii)

the borrowers are given the opportunity to be independently advised by a qualified conveyancer of their choice;

(e)

for a charity or voluntary organisation whose objects relate wholly or partly to the employer's area;

(f)

for a patient who is the subject of a Court of Protection Order where you are acting for a work colleague (under Rule 4.4 to 4.6 above) who is appointed as deputy for the patient; or

(g)

for a child or young person subject to a Care Order in favour of the employer on an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Law Centres, charities and other non-commercial advice services
4.16

If you are employed by a law centre or advice service operated by a charitable or similar non-commercial organisation you may give advice to and otherwise act for members of the public, provided:

(a)

no funding agent has majority representation on the body responsible for the management of the service, and that body remains independent of central and local government;

(b)

all fees you earn and costs you recover are paid to the organisation for furthering the provision of the organisation's services;

(c)

the organisation is not described as a law centre unless it is a member of the Law Centres Federation; and

(d)

the organisation has indemnity cover in relation to the legal activities carried out by you, reasonably equivalent to that required under the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules.

4.17

Rule 4.16 above does not apply to an association formed for the benefit of its members.

The Crown, non-departmental public bodies and the Legal Aid Agency
4.18

If you are employed by the Crown, a non-departmental public body or the Legal Aid Agency (or any body established or maintained by the Legal Aid Agency), you may give legal advice to, and act for, persons other than your employer if in doing so you are carrying out the lawful functions of your employer.

Foreign law firms
4.19

Unless your employer is an Exempt European Practice you may provide legal services to your employer's clients, subject to the conditions set out in Rule 4.20 below, if you are a solicitor or an REL employed by:

(a)

a practising lawyer of another jurisdiction who:

(i)

is not struck off or suspended from the register of foreign lawyers or the register of European lawyers; and

(ii)

is not practising in that context as a solicitor or as an REL; or

(b)

a business whose managers and interest holders are all practising through that business as lawyers of jurisdictions other than England and Wales, and do not include any person who:

(i)

is struck off or suspended from the register of foreign lawyers or the register of European lawyers; or

(ii)

is practising through or in the context of that business as a solicitor or as an REL.

4.20

You must meet the following conditions if acting, under Rule 4.19 above, for anyone other than your employer.

(a)

Even if you are qualified to do such work for your employer, you must not do, or supervise or assume responsibility for doing any of the following:

(i)

drawing or preparing any instrument or papers comprising reserved legal activities under section 12(1)(c) or (d) of the LSA;

(ii)

exercising any right of audience, or right to conduct litigation (including making any application or lodging any document relating to litigation), before a court or immigration tribunal; or

(iii)

providing any immigration advice or immigration services, unless the employer, or a senior fellow employee, is registered with the Immigration Services Commissioner.

(b)

You must ensure that the work you do is covered by professional indemnity insurance reasonably equivalent to that required under the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules.

(c)

You must:

(i)

inform your client that your employer is not regulated by the SRA and that the SRA's compulsory insurance scheme does not apply, and either give or confirm this information in writing, if you are a solicitor, and you are held out to a client as a solicitor (or as an English or Welsh lawyer) in connection with work you are doing for that client; and

(ii)

ensure that if you are identified on the notepaper as a solicitor (or as an English or Welsh lawyer) the notepaper also states that your employer is not regulated by the SRA.

4.21

Rule 4.20(c) above should also be read as referring to an REL being held out or identified as a lawyer, or under the REL's title from their home state.

In-house practice overseas
4.22

Rules 4.10 and 4.11 (Pro bono work) apply to your in-house practice where you are employed in a body outside England and Wales.

4.23

The other provisions of Rule 4 (In-house practice) do not apply to your in-house practice where you are employed in a body outside England and Wales, but you must comply with Rules 4.24 and 4.25 below.

4.24

Subject to 4.25 below, you may act as an in-house lawyer, but only for:

(a)

your employer;

(b)

a company or organisation controlled by your employer or in which your employer has a substantial measure of control;

(c)

a company in the same group as your employer;

(d)

a company which controls your employer; or

(e)

an employee (including a director or a company secretary) of a company or organisation under (a) to (d) above, provided that the matter relates to or arises out of the work of that company or organisation, does not relate to a claim arising as a result of a personal injury to the employee, and no charge is made for your work unless those costs are recoverable from another source.

4.25

If you are a solicitor registered in another state under the Establishment Directive with the professional body for a local legal profession you may practise in-house to the extent that a member of that legal profession is permitted to do so.

Regulatory bodies
4.26

If you are employed by a regulatory body you may in carrying out the function of the employer give legal advice to other persons and, where those functions are statutory, may act generally for such persons.

Guidance notes

(i)

This rule applies to you if you are a solicitor or REL (or in limited circumstances an RFL) working in in-house practice, which is generally when you are working otherwise than through a regulated legal practice such as an authorised body or an authorised non-SRA firm. However, these provisions also apply to you if you are a solicitor, REL or RFL when working in a licensed body or an authorised non-SRA firm but are doing work, for example, for the firm itself which is outside the scope of the firm's own authorisation.

(ii)

The general principle, subject to limited exceptions, is that your employer itself will need to be authorised if, in your capacity as an employee and as part of your employer's business, you wish to provide reserved legal services to the public (see LSA, section 15(4)). The provisions of 4.4 to 4.26, regarding acting in an in-house capacity for clients other than your employer, are subject to the provisions of the LSA which may nonetheless require your employer to obtain authorisation, for example members of an association may be "the public or a section of the public" for the purposes of the LSA. Such issues should be kept under review as your position may change e.g. your employer's business may develop in such a way that it requires authorisation.

(iii)

If you are a solicitor working in-house (whether in or outside England and Wales) you must comply with Rule 9 (Practising certificates). For further guidance on the need for a practising certificate see our website. Examples of situations where you will be practising as a solicitor, and will therefore need a practising certificate, include:

(a)

you are employed as a solicitor;

(b)

you are held out, on stationery or otherwise, as a solicitor for your employer;

(c)

you administer oaths;

(d)

you appear before a court or tribunal in reliance upon your qualification as a solicitor;

(e)

you instruct counsel;

(f)

you undertake work which is prohibited to unqualified persons under the provisions of Part 3 of the LSA, unless you are supervised by, and acting in the name of, a solicitor with a practising certificate or another qualified person;

(g)

your only qualification as a lawyer is that you are a solicitor, and:

(A)

you are employed or held out as a lawyer;

(B)

you undertake work in another jurisdiction which is reserved to lawyers;

(C)

you are registered in a state other than the UK under the Establishment Directive; or

(D)

you are a registered foreign legal consultant in another jurisdiction.

(iv)

In England and Wales a number of statutory exceptions apply to qualify (ii). Certain in-house government solicitors are allowed to practise as solicitors without practising certificates. Some reserved work can be undertaken by non-solicitors working for local government, and therefore by non-practising solicitors working for local government. See also Rules 9, 10 and 11.

(v)

A solicitor acting only as a justices' clerk in England and Wales is not practising as a solicitor and can instruct counsel without a practising certificate.

(vi)

If you are an in-house solicitor the address of your employer's legal department is the place (or one of the places) where you practise and must therefore be notified to the SRA.

(vii)

If you handle client money, the SRA Accounts Rules will apply to you unless you are exempted under Rule 5 of those rules.

(viii)

If you are working in-house as the senior legal adviser of a company or a local authority you should have direct access to the board or to the council and its committees, and should try to ensure that your terms of employment provide for such access. "Direct access" does not mean that all instructions and advice must pass directly to and from the council, committee or board, but you must have direct access where necessary.

(ix)

An in-house solicitor may act for work colleagues, subject to certain safeguards, provided the matter relates to and arises out of the person's work for the employer. This will cover matters that relate directly to the fellow employee's work but would not, for example, permit reserved legal services to be offered as a benefit under an employment package. Those working in-house will need to consider whether they are allowed to act on a case by case basis and, in particular, the extent to which there is a direct relationship between the work colleague's employment and the reserved legal activity.

(x)

The ability of in-house solicitors to act for clients on a pro bono basis is limited by the LSA, which requires that, in general, the provision of reserved legal services to the public is carried out through an authorised body. There is no such limitation under the LSA in respect of unreserved services, such as providing legal advice. Rule 4.10 sets out the parameters within which in-house solicitors may provide reserved services on a pro bono basis, reflecting the position under the LSA. To determine whether you can undertake reserved legal activities within 4.10, one question will be whether the activities to be undertaken can be regarded as part of the business of the employer. Relevant factors are likely to be:

(a)

relevancy of such work to the employer's business;

(b)

whether the work is required of the employee by the employer;

(c)

how often such work is carried out;

(d)

where such work is carried out;

(e)

when such work is carried out;

(f)

whether such work is explicitly carried out on the employer's behalf;

(g)

who provides the necessary professional indemnity insurance;

(h)

the extent to which the employer relies on or publicises such work;

(i)

whether the employer provides management, training or supervision in relation to such work;

(j)

whether the employer specifically rewards the employee in any way in relation to such work;

(k)

how many employees carry out the work, and the overall proportion of their time spent on such work;

(l)

the extent to which such work complements or enhances the employer's business.

All the circumstances, and the context, will be critical to your decision about whether you may act, for example the work will not necessarily be part of the employer's business merely because it is carried out in office hours, or at the employer's premises.

There will be some situations which are likely to be easier to judge. If there is a clear relationship with the employer's business, acting will not be permissible. For example, you are likely to be prevented from acting:

(A)

where the employer describes its business as including the provision of pro bono services;

(B)

where the work may boost the employer's business by providing extra business opportunities or creating contacts.

(xi)

If you are employed as a solicitor or REL by an insurer which runs a commercial legal telephone advice service, the restrictions in Rule 4.14 will not apply to prevent you acting for an insured in accordance with Rule 4.13.

(xii)

If you are employed as a solicitor or REL by a law centre or advice service operated by a charitable or similar non-commercial organisation, you can advise and act for members of the public provided you comply with Rule 4.16 and 4.17. A solicitor or REL who works as a volunteer for such an advice service must comply with the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules unless exempted by a waiver. If your employer obtains authorisation as a licensed body you will not need to rely on the exceptions in Rule 4.

(xiii)

As the in-house employee of a foreign law firm under Rule 4.19 and 4.20 you may not do reserved work for clients or (unless your employer is separately authorised) immigration work. You must also comply with special requirements as to insurance and "health warnings". Note also, that if you are employed by a foreign law firm and a principal, interest holder or director of the firm is a solicitor, Rule 4.19 and 4.20 will not apply unless the solicitor is dually qualified and is practising only as a lawyer of another jurisdiction in the context of that business.

(xiv)

By contrast, employment overseas by a foreign law firm will not usually fall within the definition of in-house practice in the Glossary if your employer is a lawyer or a law firm.

(xv)

If you are a solicitor, REL or RFL practising as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm, neither Rule 4, nor the bulk of the SRA Code of Conduct, nor the SRA Accounts Rules, will be relevant to you when you do work of a type that is within the scope of the firm's authorisation. See Chapter 13 of the SRA Code of Conduct (Application and waivers provisions).

(xvi)

If you are a solicitor, REL or RFL practising as a manager, employee, member or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm, you must comply with Rule 4, with the SRA Code of Conduct, and with the SRA Accounts Rules, as if you were an in-house solicitor or REL when you do work of a type which is outside the scope of the firm's authorisation - see Rule 4.3 and the definition of "in-house practice" in the Glossary.

(xvii)

Note that if you are a solicitor, REL or RFL and you are a manager, member or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm, or employed in such a firm in connection with the provision of any legal services, it must be:

(a)

in your capacity as a solicitor, REL or RFL, or

(b)

in the capacity of an individual authorised by an approved regulator other than the SRA, if you are so authorised, or

(c)

in both such capacities;

except that if you are a solicitor who is a director of an authorised non-SRA firm or employed in such a firm in connection with the provision of any legal services, you must be practising in your capacity as a solicitor, even if also in some other capacity. See Rule 11.2 and 11.3, as well as section 1A(d) of the SA.

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.

Rule 6: Managers and employees authorised by another approved regulator

6.1

If you are a manager or employee of an authorised body and you are not a solicitor but you are authorised by an approved regulator other than the SRA, you must not:

(a)

be held out in any way which suggests that you are, or are entitled to practise as, a solicitor;

(b)

undertake the following reserved work in England and Wales, unless authorised by your approved regulator to do so:

(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, unless authorised by your approved regulator or acting under instructions given by a person qualified to supervise that reserved work;

(d)

undertake the following reserved work in England and Wales, unless authorised by your approved regulator or acting 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.

Guidance notes

(i)

Rule 16 permits lawyers and firms authorised by another approved regulator to be interest holders and managers of an authorised body.

(ii)

An individual authorised by another approved regulator cannot practise as a sole practitioner regulated by the SRA as the SRA can only authorise and regulate sole solicitors and RELs.

(iii)

Where, in order to satisfy statutory requirements, there is a need for an individual 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.

(iv)

A lawyer of England and Wales who is an individual authorised by another approved regulator is subject to the SRA's regulatory arrangements in relation to practice outside England and Wales if he or she is a manager of an authorised body.

Rule 7: Managers and employees who are not lawyers

7.1

If you are a manager or employee of an authorised body and you are not a lawyer of England and Wales, an RFL or a lawyer of an Establishment Directive profession, 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.

Guidance note

(i)

A non-lawyer manager is subject to the SRA's regulatory arrangements in relation to legal practice outside England and Wales if he or she is a manager of an authorised body.

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