The SRA Handbook is no longer in effect.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

SRA Handbook

Practising certificates

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Version 9 of the Handbook was published on 01/04/2014. For more information, please click 'History' Above

Rule 9: Practising certificates


If you are practising as a solicitor (including in-house), whether in England and Wales or overseas, you must:


have in force a practising certificate issued by the SRA; or


be exempt under section 88 of the SA from holding a practising certificate.


You will be practising as a solicitor if you are involved in legal practice and:


your involvement in the firm or the work depends on your being a solicitor;


you are held out explicitly or implicitly as a practising solicitor;


you are employed explicitly or implicitly as a solicitor; or


you are deemed by section 1A of the SA to be acting as a solicitor.


In 9.2 above "legal practice" includes not only the provision of legal advice or assistance, or representation in connection with the application of the law or resolution of legal disputes, but also the provision of other services such as are provided by solicitors.


If you are a solicitor who was formerly an REL, and you are practising from an office in the UK as a lawyer of an Establishment Directive profession, you must have in force a practising certificate issued by the SRA, even if you are not practising as a solicitor.

Guidance notes


Rule 9 includes, in rule form, the requirements of sections 1 and 1A of the SA. The issuing of practising certificates under that Act is the responsibility of the SRA. For further guidance on the need for a practising certificate see our website.


If you practise as a solicitor, whether in a firm or in-house, without having a practising certificate, you will commit a criminal offence, as well as a breach of the rules, unless you are entitled to rely on the exemption in section 88 of the SA.