News release

Sole practitioner authorisation agreed

Changes to the way the Solicitors Regulation Authority authorises sole practitioners have been agreed to by the Legal Services Board.

The LSB has exempted our proposed changes from its normal decision-making process. They will therefore form part of Handbook amendments that come into effect on 1 November. The SRA Board agreed in July to the proposed amendments to rules that will bring our existing processes for authorising sole practitioners in line with all other firms.

Currently, there is an endorsement procedure in place, which means a solicitor may not practise as a sole practitioner unless they have a "sole solicitor endorsement" on their practising certificate (PC). The endorsement has to be renewed every year. In contrast, other firms go through a one-off authorisation application process, rather than an annual endorsement.

As a result of the changes, the endorsement procedure for sole practitioners will no longer be required. From October, when sole practitioners renew they will be issued with a practising certificate without an endorsement, as is already the case for managers (partners etc) at other type of firms. The same application form will be used to renew a practising certificate and pay a periodical fee.

Crispin Passmore, SRA Executive Director of Policy, said: "These changes will harmonise and simplify regulatory arrangements for sole practitioners, moving away from an annual endorsement and replacing it with a lifetime authorisation which does not need to be renewed annually.

"In reality, the changes should have little or no impact on firms and sole practitioners, and they should apply for PC renewal as normal in 2015."

Following the renewal exercise, a Certificate of Authorisation will be issued. Further information for sole practitioners is available in the mySRA frequently-asked questions.

 
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