SRA Handbook

Applications, conditions and appeals

Version 20 of the Handbook was published on 1 October 2018. For more information, please click "History" above.

Part 1: Applications, conditions and appeals

Regulation 1: General requirements for applications under these regulations

1.1

An application under these regulations must comprise:

(a)

the prescribed form, correctly completed;

(b)

the prescribed fee or fees;

(c)

if the application is for a practising certificate, for replacement of a practising certificate, for registration or for renewal of registration, any prescribed contribution to the Solicitors' Compensation Fund;

(d)

such additional information, documents and references as may be specified by the SRA; and

(e)

any additional information and documentation which the SRA may reasonably require.

It is not necessary to submit all documents, information and payments simultaneously, but an application will only have been made once the SRA has received all of the documentation, information and payments comprising that application.

1.2

Every applicant must:

(a)

ensure that all details relating to him or her given on any form prescribed under these regulations are correct and complete;

(b)

notify the SRA as soon as he or she becomes aware that any information provided in an application under these regulations has changed.

1.3

Every form submitted under these regulations must be personally signed by the applicant unless:

(a)

a solicitor or REL has been given written permission by the SRA, in exceptional circumstances, to sign on the applicant's behalf; or

(b)

the application is made wholly or partly on a prescribed form which is designed to be completed and signed on behalf of a number of applicants in one firm or organisation. In that case, the form must be signed by a solicitor or REL who:

(i)

is authorised to sign the form by the firm or organisation;

(ii)

has the consent of all the persons named in the form to sign the form on their behalf; and

(iii)

has taken reasonable steps to ensure that all details given on the form are correct and complete.

1.4

The SRA must notify its decision and reasons in writing to the applicant when it:

(a)

refuses an application;

(b)

grants an application subject to a condition; or

(c)

refuses a permission required under a condition on a practising certificate or registration.

1.5

The SRA shall determine the amount of any fees required under these regulations and the SRA's decision shall be final.

1.6

[Deleted]

Guidance notes

(i)

Please refer to the forms and notes.

(ii)

"In writing" includes any form of written electronic communication normally used for business purposes, such as emails.

(iii)

Fees prescribed for the purposes of these regulations are prescribed:

(a)

under section 11 of the SA for a practising certificate or registration in the register of European lawyers; or

(b)

under paragraph 2 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 or section 11 of the SA for registration in the register of foreign lawyers.

Regulation 2: Applications for practising certificates and registration

2.1

The following applications may be made under regulation 2:

(a)

unless regulation 3 applies, initial applications for practising certificates and applications for replacement of practising certificates under section 9 of the SA;

(b)

unless regulation 3 applies, initial applications for registration in the register of European lawyers and applications for renewal of registration in the register of European lawyers under regulation 17 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000; and

(c)

initial applications for registration in the register of foreign lawyers and applications for renewal of registration in the register of foreign lawyers under section 89 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.

2.2

Where application is made under regulation 2 for a practising certificate or for replacement of a practising certificate the SRA must grant the application if:

(a)

the applicant's name is on the roll of solicitors;

(b)

the applicant is not suspended from practice as a solicitor;

(c)

the applicant has supplied satisfactory evidence that he or she will comply with or be exempt from the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules; and

(d)

the application is made in accordance with these regulations,

and the SRA must not grant the application unless conditions (a) to (c) are met.

2.3

Applications for initial registration or for renewal of registration in the register of European lawyers

(a)

Where application is made under regulation 2 for initial registration or for renewal of registration in the register of European lawyers the SRA must grant the application if:

(i)

the applicant is not (subject to (c) below) a solicitor, barrister or advocate of any of the UK jurisdictions, a barrister of the Irish Republic, or registered under the Establishment Directive with the BSB, the Faculty of Advocates or the Bar Council of Northern Ireland;

(ii)

the applicant is a member, and entitled to practise as such, of an Establishment Directive profession;

(iii)

the applicant is a national of an Establishment Directive state;

(iv)

the applicant applies with the intention of practising on a permanent basis in the UK and is legally entitled to do so;

(v)

the applicant is not struck off the register, suspended from the register, or subject to a direction of the Tribunal prohibiting his or her restoration to the register;

(vi)

the applicant has supplied satisfactory evidence that he or she will comply with or be exempt from the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules; and

(vii)

the application is made in accordance with these regulations,

except that if the SRA has reasonable cause to believe that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to practise in the UK it may refuse an application for initial registration.

(b)

The SRA must not grant the application unless the conditions in (a)(i) to (vi) are met.

(c)

The provisions of (a)(i) above will not apply to prevent the renewal of the registration of a European lawyer who has become a solicitor of Scotland or Northern Ireland at a time when he or she was registered both with the SRA and with the Law Society of Scotland and/or the Law Society of Northern Ireland.

2.4

Where application is made under regulation 2 for initial registration or for renewal of registration in the register of foreign lawyers, the following provisions apply.

(a)

The SRA may grant the application (subject to such conditions as it may think fit) if:

(i)

the applicant is not a solicitor, REL or barrister;

(ii)

the applicant is a member, and entitled to practise as such, of a legal profession which is regulated within a jurisdiction outside England and Wales and is approved by the SRA in accordance with paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990;

(iii)

the applicant is not struck off the register, subject to an order of the Tribunal suspending his or her registration or subject to a direction of the Tribunal prohibiting his or her restoration to the register; and

(iv)

the application is made in accordance with these regulations.

(b)

The SRA may (without prejudice to its general discretion under paragraph 2 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990) reject the application if:

(i)

the SRA is not satisfied that the applicant is eligible for registration;

(ii)

the applicant is prohibited by the rules of his or her profession from practising as a manager of a recognised body;

(iii)

the SRA is not satisfied that the applicant will be in compliance with the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules;

(iv)

the SRA is not satisfied that the applicant intends to practise in the capacity of an RFL in accordance with Rule 3 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules; or

(v)

the SRA is not satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to practise as an RFL.

(c)

A person who has been reinstated to the register under paragraph 12 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 is to be treated as entitled to practise as a member of his or her home legal profession.

2.5

The granting of a practising certificate or registration free of conditions under regulation 2 does not prevent the SRA subsequently imposing a condition in accordance with regulation 7.

Regulation 3: Application following certain events

3.1

Regulation 3 applies to an initial application for a practising certificate, an application for replacement of a practising certificate, an initial application for registration in the register of European lawyers and an application for renewal of registration in the register of European lawyers, in any of the following circumstances, subject to the exceptions set out in 3.3 below, relating for example to a previously declared event.

(a)

The applicant has been:

(i)

reprimanded, made the subject of disciplinary sanction or made the subject of an order under section 43 of the SA, ordered to pay costs or made the subject of a recommendation to the Society or the SRA to consider imposing a condition, by the Tribunal, or struck off or suspended by the court;

(ii)

made the subject of an order under section 43 of the SA by the Society or the SRA or rebuked or fined under section 44D of that Act by the SRA;

(iii)

made the subject of an intervention by the Society, the SRA or by any other approved regulator, or been:

(A)

a manager, interest holder or compliance officer, of a recognised body;

(B)

a compliance officer of a recognised sole practice;

(C)

a manager, owner or compliance officer of a licensed body;

(D)

a manager or interest holder of an authorised non-SRA firm which is not licensed under Part 5 of the LSA; or

(E)

a manager, material interest holder, HOLP or HOFA of an authorised non-SRA firm licensed under Part 5 of the LSA;

which has been the subject of an intervention by the Society, the SRA or by any other approved regulator;

(iv)

made the subject of a disciplinary sanction by, or refused registration with or authorisation by, another approved regulator, professional or regulatory tribunal, or regulatory authority, whether in England and Wales or elsewhere;

(v)

disqualified from acting as a HOLP or a HOFA or from being a manager of, or being employed by, a licensed body or an authorised non-SRA firm;

(vi)

refused authorisation as a recognised sole practice under Rule 6 of the SRA Authorisation Rules or had such authorisation revoked under Rule 22.1 of the SRA Authorisation Rules;

(vii)

refused approval to be a manager, owner or compliance officer of an authorised body or had such approval withdrawn;

(viii)

refused approval to be a manager, material interest holder, HOLP or HOFA of an authorised non-SRA firm or had such approval withdrawn;

(ix)

a manager, owner or compliance officer of an authorised body the authorisation of which has been suspended or revoked by the SRA under Rule 22 of the SRA Authorisation Rules, except under 22.1(a)(vii);

(x)

a manager, material interest holder, HOLP or HOFA of an authorised non-SRA firm the authorisation of which has been suspended or revoked by another approved regulator; or

(xi)

made subject to a revocation of his or her practising certificate or registration under regulation 10.2(a)(i) or (v) or of his or her authorisation as a recognised sole practitioner under regulation 10.2(b)(i), (iv) or (vi).

(b)

The SRA (or previously the Society) has requested an explanation from the applicant in respect of a matter relating to the applicant's conduct and has notified the applicant in writing that it does not regard the applicant's response, or lack of response, as satisfactory.

(c)

The applicant has failed to obtain or deliver within the period allowed an accountant's report required by rules made under section 34 of the SA.

(d)

The applicant's practising certificate or registration has been suspended and the suspension:

(i)

has come to an end;

(ii)

was continuing when the applicant's last practising certificate or previous registration expired or was revoked; or

(iii)

is continuing.

(e)

The applicant has been suspended from practice (or suspended from the register, if the applicant is a European lawyer), and the suspension has come to an end.

(f)

The applicant's last practising certificate or previous registration expired or was revoked whilst subject to a condition.

(g)

The applicant's practising certificate or registration is currently subject to a condition.

(h)

The applicant's right to practise as a lawyer of another jurisdiction or as a lawyer of England and Wales (other than as a solicitor) is subject to a condition or restriction.

(i)

The applicant has been restored to the roll or register, having previously been struck off.

(j)

The applicant is an undischarged bankrupt.

(k)

The applicant:

(i)

has been adjudged bankrupt and discharged;

(ii)

has entered into an individual voluntary arrangement or a partnership voluntary arrangement under the Insolvency Act 1986;

(iii)

has at any time during the last 36 months of trading of a recognised body, a licensed body or an authorised non-SRA firm which has been the subject of a winding up order, an administration order or an administrative receivership, or has entered into a voluntary arrangement under the Insolvency Act 1986, or has been voluntarily wound up in circumstances of insolvency, been a manager of that recognised body, licensed body or authorised non-SRA firm;

(iv)

has at any time during the last 36 months of trading of a company or of an LLP which has been the subject of a winding up order, an administration order or administrative receivership; or has entered into a voluntary arrangement under the Insolvency Act 1986; or has been voluntarily wound up in circumstances of insolvency, been a director of that company or a member of that LLP.

(l)

The applicant lacks capacity (within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005) and powers under sections 15 to 20 or section 48 of that Act are exercisable in relation to the applicant.

(m)

The applicant has been committed to prison in civil or criminal proceedings and:

(i)

has been released; or

(ii)

has not been released.

(n)

The applicant has been made subject to a judgment which involves the payment of money, other than one:

(i)

which is limited to the payment of costs; or

(ii)

in respect of which the applicant is entitled to indemnity or relief from another person as to the whole sum; or

(iii)

which the applicant has paid, and supplied evidence of payment to the SRA (or previously to the Society).

(o)

The applicant is currently charged with an indictable offence.

(p)

The applicant has been convicted of an indictable offence or any offence under the SA, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 or the Compensation Act 2006.

(q)

The applicant has been disqualified from being a company director.

(r)

The applicant is disqualified from being a charity trustee or trustee for a charity under section 178(1)(D) or (E) of the Charities Act 2011.

(s)

The applicant has been the subject in another jurisdiction of any circumstance equivalent to those listed in (j) to (r).

3.2

If regulation 3 applies, the SRA:

(a)

has no discretion under regulation 3 to grant the application if the applicant does not meet the conditions in regulation 2.2(a) to (c) or 2.3(a)(i) to (vi);

(b)

has discretion to impose a condition or conditions in accordance with regulation 7; and

(c)

has discretion to refuse the application.

3.3

The provisions of 3.1 and 3.2 above are subject to the following exceptions.

(a)

Regulation 3 does not apply by virtue of 3.1(a), (b), (c), (d)(i), (e), (j), (k), (m)(i), (n), (o), (p), (q), (r) or (s) if the applicant has previously applied for and obtained a practising certificate or registration, provided that:

(i)

the applicant's practising certificate or registration is not subject to a condition relating to any of those provisions;

(ii)

the SRA (or previously the Society) was aware, when granting that application, of all the relevant facts; and

(iii)

no new circumstances have arisen which would bring the application within any of those provisions.

(b)

If regulation 3 applies only by virtue of 3.1(j), (m), (n) or (p) and an appeal has been made to the appropriate court against the order or judgment in question, the following provisions apply.

(i)

The application must not be refused before the determination of that appeal, unless in the opinion of the SRA the proceedings on that appeal have been unduly protracted by the appellant or are unlikely to be successful.

(ii)

The SRA may in the meantime postpone a decision on the application and may impose a condition on the applicant's practising certificate or registration.

(c)

If regulation 3 applies only by virtue of 3.1(o), the application may not be refused unless the applicant is convicted, but the SRA may postpone a decision on the application and may impose a condition on the applicant's practising certificate or registration.

Guidance notes

(i)

"In writing" includes any form of written electronic communication normally used for business purposes, such as emails.

(ii)

Exceptions to the application of Regulation 3 are set out at 3.3. An applicant is not, for example, subject to Regulation 3 in respect of a previously declared event where the SRA was aware of all the relevant facts and issued a practising certificate or registered the applicant as a European lawyer free from conditions, and where no new circumstances have arisen to bring the application within Regulation 3.

Regulation 4: [Deleted]

Regulation 5: [Deleted]

Regulation 6: Applications for reinstatement

6.1

The following applications are to be treated as made under these regulations:

(a)

an application for reinstatement of a suspended practising certificate or suspended registration in the register of European lawyers under section 16(3) of the SA; and

(b)

an application for reinstatement of a suspended registration in the register of foreign lawyers under paragraph 12(2) of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 or under section 16(3)(b) of the SA.

Regulation 7: Conditions

7.1

The SRA may impose one or more conditions on a practising certificate or on the registration of a European lawyer when granting an application under regulation 3 to 6, or at any time during the practising year, for the following purposes.

(a)

The SRA considers the individual concerned unsuitable to undertake certain activities in relation to a legal practice, either at all or save as specified in the condition, and that imposing the condition will, in the public interest, limit, restrict, halt or prevent the involvement of the individual concerned in those activities.

(b)

The SRA considers that the individual concerned is putting or is likely to put at risk the interests of clients, third parties or the public by taking certain steps in relation to a legal practice, and that imposing the condition will, in the public interest, limit, restrict, halt or prevent the taking of such steps by the individual concerned.

(c)

The SRA considers the individual concerned unsuitable to engage in certain business agreements, business associations or practising arrangements and that imposing a condition requiring the applicant to obtain the SRA's written approval before taking certain steps will, in the public interest, limit, halt or prevent a risk to clients, third parties or the public.

(d)

The SRA considers that imposing the condition will, in the public interest, require the individual concerned to take specified steps conducive to the carrying on of efficient practice by the individual concerned.

(e)

The SRA considers that imposing the condition will, in the public interest, facilitate closer monitoring by the SRA of compliance by the individual concerned with rules and regulations.

(f)

The SRA considers that it would be in the public interest to impose the condition in any other case during the currency of a practising certificate or registration.

7.2

Without prejudice to the powers of the SRA under paragraph 2A, 12 or 13 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, the SRA may when granting an application under regulation 2.1(c) or at any time during the currency of a registration, impose such conditions on a foreign lawyer's registration as it sees fit:

(a)

if any event listed in regulation 3.1 applies to the individual concerned;

(b)

for a purpose within regulation 7.1(a) to (f); or

(c)

where the SRA considers in any other case that imposing the condition would be in the public interest.

7.3

When the SRA decides, on an initial application for a practising certificate or registration or on an application for replacement of a practising certificate or renewal of registration, to grant the application subject to a condition:

(a)

the SRA may postpone the issue of the certificate or the registration pending determination or discontinuance of any appeal; but

(b)

the postponement may be rescinded if in the SRA's opinion proceedings on appeal have been unduly protracted by an appellant or are unlikely to be successful.

7.4

Notice and effective date of conditions

(a)

The SRA must, subject to (b) below, give 28 days written notice, with reasons, to the individual concerned, when the SRA decides to impose a condition on a practising certificate or registration, except when conditions are imposed in the following applications:

(i)

initial application for a practising certificate;

(ii)

initial application for registration in the register of European lawyers or in the register of foreign lawyers;

(iii)

application for replacement of a practising certificate;

(iv)

application for renewal of registration in the register of European lawyers or in the register of foreign lawyers;

(v)

application for reinstatement under regulation 6.

(b)

The SRA may shorten or dispense with the 28 day period under (a) if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that it is in the public interest to do so.

(c)

A condition is effective from the date on which the condition is imposed unless a later date is specified in the condition.

Regulation 8: Appeals

8.1

The rights of appeal conferred by regulation 8 supplement the statutory rights of appeal referred to in 8.4.

8.2

A person who is the subject of a revocation, under regulation 10.2(a)(i), (iii), (iv) or (v), of a solicitor's practising certificate has a right of appeal to the High Court.

8.3

A solicitor, REL or RFL who is the subject of any of the following decisions may appeal under the SRA's own appeals procedure against:

(a)

refusal to revoke a practising certificate or registration under regulation 10.2(c);

(b)

refusal to withhold a solicitor's, European lawyer's or foreign lawyer's place of business from the relevant register under regulation 11, 12 or 13.

8.4

A solicitor, European lawyer or foreign lawyer may invoke the SRA's own appeals procedure before exercising a right of appeal to the High Court:

(a)

under section 13(1) of the SA, against refusal to issue or replace a practising certificate or refusal to renew registration in the register of European lawyers;

(b)

under regulation 20 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/1119), against refusal to grant initial registration in the register of European lawyers;

(c)

under paragraph 14 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, against refusal to grant or renew registration in the register of foreign lawyers, or against a decision of the SRA to revoke his or her registration;

(d)

under section 13(1), 13ZA(6), 13A(6) or 16(5) of the SA, regulation 20 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000 or paragraph 14 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, against the imposition of a condition on a practising certificate or the registration of a European lawyer or foreign lawyer;

(e)

under section 13(2) or 13A(9) of the SA, against refusal of permission to take a step for which the SRA's permission is required under a condition on a practising certificate or the registration of a European lawyer or foreign lawyer;

(f)

under section 13B(7) of the SA, against suspension of a practising certificate or suspension of registration in the register of foreign lawyers;

(g)

under regulation 20 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000, against suspension of registration in the register of European lawyers;

(h)

under section 13B(7) of the SA, against extension of suspension of a practising certificate or suspension of the registration of a European lawyer or foreign lawyer;

(i)

under section 16(5) of the SA or paragraph 14 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, against refusal to reinstate a suspended practising certificate or the suspended registration of a European lawyer or foreign lawyer;

(j)

under regulation 20 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000 against revocation of registration in the register of European lawyers;

(k)

under regulations 19 and 20 of the European Communities (Lawyer's Practice) Regulations 2000 against failure to determine, within four months, an application for initial registration in the register of European lawyers;

(l)

under paragraph 14 of Schedule 14 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, against failure to determine, within a reasonable time, an application for registration, renewal of registration or reinstatement of a suspended registration in the register of foreign lawyers;

(m)

against a decision mentioned in regulation 8.2.

8.5

Deemed refusal

(a)

If an application is made in accordance with regulation 1.1, and the SRA has not notified the applicant of its decision:

(i)

by the end of the 90th day, in the case of any application except an application for renewal of a practising certificate or registration which is made under regulation 3; or

(ii)

by the end of the 180th day, in the case of an application for renewal of a practising certificate or registration which is made under regulation 3,

the application is to be treated as having been refused and the refusal having been duly notified to the applicant on that day for the purpose of an appeal. For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that an application is treated as refused under regulation 8.5 does not prevent the application being granted or refused with reasons after expiry of the time limits above.

(b)

The provisions of (a) above do not apply to an application from which an appeal lies under 8.4(n) or (o).

8.6

Appeal time limits

(a)

Appeals under the SRA's own appeals procedure must be commenced within 28 days of notification of the relevant decision.

(b)

Unless otherwise provided in the relevant statute, regulations or rules of Court or in the relevant decision, an appeal to the High Court must be commenced:

(i)

within the period of 28 days from the date of notification of the decision that is subject to appeal;

(ii)

within a period of 28 days from the date of notification of the refusal of an appeal under the SRA's own appeals procedure; or

(iii)

within a period of 28 days from the date of notification of the decision to impose a condition under the SRA's own appeals procedure,

as appropriate.

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