The SRA Handbook is no longer in effect. It was replaced by the SRA Standards and Regulations on 25 November 2019.

SRA Handbook

Eligibility criteria and fundamental requirements for recognised bodies

Version 21 of the Handbook was published on 06/12/2018. For more information, please click 'History' Above

Rule 13: Eligibility criteria and fundamental requirements for recognised bodies and recognised sole practices

Recognised bodies


To be eligible to be a recognised body, a body must be a legal services body namely a partnership, company or LLP of which:


at least one manager is:


a solicitor with a current practising certificate, or


an REL, or


(in the case of a partnership or LLP) a body corporate which is a legally qualified body with at least one manager who is a solicitor with a current practising certificate or an REL; and


all of the managers and interest holders are lawyers and legally qualified bodies.

Services requirement for a recognised body or recognised sole practice


The business of a recognised body or recognised sole practice may consist only of the provision of:


professional services of the sort provided by individuals practising as solicitors and/or lawyers of other jurisdictions; and


professional services of the sort provided by notaries public, but only if a notary public is a manager or employee of a recognised body; and


the following services (whether or not they are also included in paragraph (a))


alternative dispute resolution;


financial services;


estate agency;


management consultancy;


company secretarial services;


other professional and specialist support services to business including human resources, recruitment, systems support, outsourcing, transcription and translating;


acting as a parliamentary agent;


practising as a lawyer of another jurisdiction;


acting as a bailiff;


accountancy services;


education and training activities; and


authorship, journalism and publishing.

Recognised sole practices


A sole practitioner's practice is eligible to be a recognised sole practice if the sole practitioner:


is a solicitor or REL;


will be practising as a sole practitioner from an office in England and Wales; and


is not, and is not about to be made, subject to a condition on his or her practising certificate or registration."

Guidance notes


Although most organisations which involve non-lawyers as managers or interest holders must be licensed bodies, there is a limited exception under section 72(2) of the LSA which permits a small degree of non-lawyer involvement in recognised bodies. Where one or more bodies are involved in a firm as a manager or owner/interest holder, and in those bodies non-authorised persons have only a de minimis (less than 10%) control by way of voting rights, then the firm will remain a legal services body requiring recognition under the AJA. Where the control is 10% or more, the firm will be a licensable body.


Rule 13.2 lists the services that can be carried out within a recognised body or a recognised sole practice: either solicitor services, notary services, services of a lawyer or as exceptions to these services under section 9(1A) of the Administration of Justice Act 1985. Professional services 'of the sort that can be carried out by solicitors' include any legal activity under the LSA. Nothing in Rule 13.2 affects any requirements that may be imposed by legislation or non SRA-regulation in relation to the listed activities. See also the SRA Property Selling Rules 2011 in relation to estate agency services.