News release

Last week of International Strategy consultation

Those interested in contributing to the shape of the Solicitors Regulation Authority's International Strategy have until Wednesday 15 February to have their say.

The SRA is currently consulting with stakeholders on regulating an increasingly global profession. Views are sought on the ways in which the authority as a single regulator can fulfil its principal duty of consumer protection without constraining a competitive and highly sophisticated international sector.

The consultation document 'The Regulation of International Practice' sets out the SRA's proposals on how it might regulate the international practice of firms with headquarters in England or Wales. The document, launched on 8 November, contains proposals that cut through some of the regulatory maze facing international firms, supporting them in the development of single global businesses.

If the proposals are accepted, they should lead to firms having greater flexibility to operate in any form that is allowed in other countries and bring into their partnerships anyone who is recognised as a lawyer in their home country. Such firms would also benefit from a significant reduction in paperwork and welcome cost savings.

Around 160 branches of law firms that currently have to register and comply separately with SRA regulations even when overseas would instead come under a single international firm 'passport to practice', a more appropriate regulatory oversight regime. Under the proposals, the SRA has suggested opening up a route to partnership in English law firms for lawyers in key emerging markets who have not previously been permitted to become partners in solicitors' firms here.

Last year the SRA paved the way by opening up a new requalification track in English law for foreign lawyers - the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS). The SRA is also seeking views on whether to allow European law firms more flexibility to choose whether to be regulated as foreign law firms or as English firms, depending on the services they wish to offer. The SRA has held meetings with public and private sector stakeholders and other organisations interested in these proposals all of whom have broadly welcomed the direction of travel proposed.

Further information is available on the Consultation pages of this website.

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