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Decision,making,criteria

This set of criteria was archived on 5 October 2012 as part of our Transformation Programme.

Partnership, LLP or company, decision to grant, refuse or grant subject to condition(s) an application for initial recognition of

Principles of regulatory decision-making, approved by the SRA Board, provide a set of standards applicable to decisions. The principles are supported by guidelines. The principles and guidelines are written, accessible to all staff and published on the website.

The reasons given by a decision-maker will normally include specific criteria applicable to the decision. SRA Policies relevant to decision-making are reflected in the criteria.

Scope of this document

This document applies to decisions to grant/refuse/grant subject to conditions on recognition an application for initial recognition of a partnership, LLP or company.

This document does not apply to decisions to renew a recognised body's recognition (such decisions are subject to different criteria).

This document does not apply to decisions to impose conditions on an individual's practising certificate or registration as an REL, although a decision to attach such a condition could arise from consideration of an application for initial recognition of a partnership, LLP or company. Criteria for such decisions are dealt with in a separate document.

This document does not apply to decisions as to whether to grant temporary emergency recognition of a partnership following a partnership split (under Regulation 5 of the SRA Recognised Bodies Regulations 2009). Criteria for such decisions are dealt with in a separate document.

The relevant provisions are:

SRA Recognised Bodies Regulations 2009, in particular, Regulations 2 and 4.

Criteria

The following criteria apply to decisions about initial recognition and imposing conditions under Regulations 2 and 4:

Refusal:

  • The SRA will refuse an application for initial recognition if it is not satisfied that the applicant meets the conditions in Regulation 2.1(a) to (d).
  • The SRA may refuse an application for initial recognition if it is satisfied that any of the circumstances in Regulation 2.2 apply. In reaching such a decision, the SRA may take into account any of the facts or matters referred to in Regulation 2.3.

Examples of facts or circumstances which could lead to a decision to refuse an application for initial recognition include:

  • one of the prospective managers is an undischarged bankrupt,
  • deliberately misleading information given on Form RB1,
  • one of the prospective managers has a condition on his practising certificate/registration which prevents him being a partner, director or member of an LLP,
  • none of the managers of the proposed firm has previous experience in private practice, or
  • the only manager who is qualified to supervise is a manager in another firm.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list.

Grant – free of conditions on recognition:

  • The SRA will grant an application for initial recognition and will not impose any conditions on that recognition, if it is satisfied that the applicant meets the conditions in Regulation 2.1(a) to (d) and there is no evidence of concern which could fall within 2.2, including no evidence of any of the facts or matters referred to in 2.3.
  • The SRA may grant an application for initial recognition and will not impose any conditions on that recognition, if it is satisfied that the applicant meets the conditions in Regulation 2.1(a) to (d) and the only evidence of concern which could fall within Regulation 2.2, including any evidence of any of the facts or matters referred to in Regulation 2.3, does not merit a condition on the firm's recognition as such a condition would not fall within the purposes set out in Regulation 4.2.
  • The SRA may grant an application for initial recognition and will not impose any conditions on that recognition, if it is satisfied that the applicant meets the conditions in Regulation 2.1(a) to (d) and the only evidence of concern which could fall within Regulation 2.2, including any evidence of any of the facts or matters referred to in Regulation 2.3, is better dealt with by imposing a condition under Regulation 6 of the Practising Regulations 2009. Separate criteria exist for such decisions.

Grant – subject to conditions on recognition:

  • The SRA will grant an application for initial recognition with condition(s) on that recognition if it is satisfied that the applicant meets the conditions in Regulation 2.1(a) to (d) and the imposition of such condition(s) is appropriate/necessary to achieve one or more of the purposes for attaching conditions set out in Regulation 4.2.
  • In considering whether to impose conditions on initial recognition, the SRA may take into account that there is evidence which could fall within Regulation 2.2, with reference to Regulation 2.3, but the SRA is minded to grant the application for initial recognition nonetheless.
  • In considering the purposes under Regulation 4.2, the SRA shall take into account the following general considerations:
    • whether there is a risk to clients, third parties or the public in allowing the firm to start practising,
    • whether the grant of initial recognition will diminish the public's confidence in the profession or in the regulation of the profession,
    • the effect on the proposed firm if any condition is imposed,
    • any previous disciplinary record of proposed managers/owners of the firm,
    • any outstanding complaints against proposed managers/owners of the firm,
    • where relevant, the length of time that has passed since the incident or breach occurred,
    • any correspondence sent in support of the application, and
    • the applicant's comments if provided in respect of any draft proposal to impose conditions on recognition.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list

Example

The example below is illustrative and does not set any type of precedent. Each matter is considered on its own facts and merits.

Ms G, Mrs F and Mr H, all solicitors, aim to enter into practice together. Ms G is 7 years qualified, and Mrs F and Mr H are 2 years qualified. They each have a practising certificate with no conditions imposed. They have been working as solicitors in private practice since they each qualified.

They have formed GFH Solicitors LLP which is registered at Companies House with the three of them as the only members.

They complete form RB2, submitting the form to us with the relevant fee including evidence that indemnity insurance arrangements are in place.

Ms G is named as the person "qualified to supervise" for purposes of rule 5.02 and evidence is provided that she has completed more than 12 hours of learning on management skills.

If none of the members has practical experience in the running and managing of a legal practice. we may ask for more information to satisfy ourselves they have sufficient skills and knowledge to run and manage such a business, however, it would be likely that such an application would be granted with conditions.