Statement of legal knowledge

Updated July 2020

Please note this statement of legal knowledge is currently being updated. To see up to date details of the knowledge required for the SQE, please read our SQE1 assessment specification and SQE2 assessment specification.

About the statement of legal knowledge

The Statement of Legal Knowledge sets out the knowledge that solicitors are required demonstrate at the point of qualification.

Statement of legal knowledge

1. Ethics, professional conduct and regulation, including money laundering and solicitors accounts

  • 1a.

    The ethical concepts governing the solicitor's role and behaviour, including as expressed in the law, and the economic, social and cultural influences that can bias independent and ethical judgment

  • 1b.

    The SRA Principles

  • 1c.

    The Code of Conduct:

    • commitment to the rule of law and proper administration of justice
    • duties and responsibilities owed to clients
    • running the business
    • interacting with the regulator
    • duties to others
  • 1d.

    Money laundering

  • 1e.

    Financial services

  • 1f.

    Solicitors' accounts

    • identification of office/client money
    • receipts into and payments out of office and client account/money
    • payment of deposit interest
    • accounting systems and internal controls
    • recording transactions and preparation of financial statements
    • regulatory controls
  • 1g.

    Obligations to report relevant to a solicitor's practice

2. Wills and administration of estates

  • 2a.

    Pre-grant practice

    • validity, revocation and alteration of wills and codicils
    • total and partial intestacy
    • identification of property passing by will, intestacy or outside of the estate
    • valuation of assets and liabilities and the taxable estate
  • 2b.

    Application for a grant of representation

    • the necessity for and main types of a grant
    • the powers and duties of personal representatives and their protection
    • the main types of oath for executors or administrators
    • the prior submission of inheritance tax account to HMRC before grant is obtained and payment of tax shown due on account
  • 2c.

    Post-grant practice

    • collection and realisation of assets, and claims on the estate
    • raising funds and the payment of all tax and debts
    • pecuniary legacies, vesting of gifted property in the beneficiaries entitled and distribution of the residuary estate

3. Taxation

  • 3a.

    Income tax

    • who is chargeable (residence/domicile)
    • what is chargeable (types of income/main reliefs and exemptions)
    • how is charge levied (deduction at source/PAYE/self-assessment)
    • outline of anti-avoidance provisions
  • 3b.

    Capital Gains Tax

    • who is chargeable (residence/domicile)
    • what is chargeable (calculation of gains/ allowable deductions/ main reliefs and exemptions)
    • how is charge levied (self-assessment/recovery through PAYE system/agents)
    • outline of anti-avoidance provisions
  • 3c.

    Inheritance Tax

    • Key principles
      • basis of charge to tax (potentially exempt gifts/lifetime chargeable gifts/transfers on death)
      • main exemptions/reliefs
      • outline of anti-avoidance provisions (reservation of benefit regime, restrictions on deductibility of certain debts/ encumbrances)
      • person liable to make returns and payment
  • 3d.

    Corporation Tax

    • Key principles
      • chargeability to corporation tax
      • tax treatment of company distributions or deemed distributions to shareholders
      • payment and collection of tax (self-assessment)
      • outline of anti-avoidance legislation
  • 3e.

    Value Added Tax

    • key principles relating to scope, supply, input and output tax
    • registration requirements and issue of VAT invoices
    • returns/payment of VAT and record keeping

4. Law of organisations

  • 4a.

    Business and organisational structures

  • 4b.

    Legal personality and limited liability

  • 4c.

    Procedures required to incorporate a company/form a partnership/LLP and the approvals and other steps required under companies and partnerships legislation to enable the entity to commence operating

  • 4d.

    Corporate governance

    • rights, duties and powers of directors and shareholders of companies
    • procedures relating to company decision making and meetings
    • minority shareholder protection rights
  • 4e.

    Raising capital, including company borrowing

  • 4f.

    Insolvency (corporate and personal insolvency)

5. Property

  • 5a.

    Key concepts of real property

  • 4b.

    The property legislation of 1925; registered and unregistered land; Land Registration Act 2002

  • 5c.

    Estates and interests in land and their transfer: freeholds, leases, mortgages, easements; and rights over land: licences, tenancies at will

  • 5d.

    The trust of land and co-ownership

  • 5e.

    Adverse possession

  • 5f.

    The landlord/tenant relationship; leasehold covenants; enfranchisement

  • 5g.

    Real property and human rights

  • 5h.

    Tax considerations relevant to property transactions

6. Torts

  • 6a.


    • duty of care and breach of duty of care
    • causation and remoteness of damage
    • problematic areas, including pure economic loss and psychiatric illness damage
  • 6b.

    Breach of statutory duty and product liability

  • 6c.

    Nuisance, and the rule in Rylands v Fletcher

  • 6d.

    Trespass to the person

  • 6e.


  • 6f.

    Vicarious liability

  • 6g.

    Remedies, including damages and injunctions

  • 6h.

    Defences, including consent and contributory negligence

7. Criminal law and evidence

  • 7a.

    Elements of offences - actus reus and mens rea. Factors affecting culpability: e.g. insanity, automatism and intoxication. Capacity to commit offences

  • 7b.

    Modes of liability: secondary participation, vicarious and corporate liability

  • 7c.

    Specific offences: public order offences, fatal, non-fatal and sexual offences against the person, property offences

  • 7d.

    Inchoate offences: assisting and encouraging crime, attempt and conspiracy

  • 7e.

    Defences: self-defence, necessity, duress. Partial defences to murder loss of control, diminished responsibility

  • 7f.

    Evidence, including burden and standard of proof, bad character and hearsay

  • 7g.

    The European Convention of Human Rights, particularly articles 5 and 6

8. Criminal litigation

  • 8a.

    Criminal Procedure Rules, their overriding objective, and their application

  • 8b.

    Pre-trial procedures, including plea before venue and allocation

  • 8c.

    The role of the defendant’s representative in police stations both as own client and as duty solicitor and the role of the defendant’s solicitor at court under the duty solicitor scheme

  • 8d.

    Custody, review and detention limits under PACE and the role of the custody officer

  • 8e.

    Key steps for making an application for a representation order

  • 8f.

    Key steps for making or contesting a bail application

  • 8g.

    The trial process

  • 8h.


  • 8i.


9. Contract Law

  • 9a.

    Formation, including offer and acceptance, consideration, intention to create legal relations, certainty

  • 9b.

    Variation and promissory estoppel

  • 9c.

    Privity of contract and rights of third parties

  • 9d.

    Terms, including terms implied by common law and statute

  • 9e.

    Interpretation of contracts

  • 9f.

    Exemption clauses and unfair terms

  • 9g.

    Vitiating factors: including mistake, misrepresentation, duress and undue influence

  • 9h.

    Termination of contract for breach or frustration

  • 9i.

    Remedies: damages, award of an agreed sum, specific performance, injunctions

  • 9j.

    Restitution for unjust enrichment (especially in the context of termination of a contract)

10. Trusts and equitable wrongs

  • 10a.

    Difference between legal and equitable interests

  • 10b.

    Creation of express trusts

  • 10c.

    Resulting trusts

  • 10d.

    Constructive trusts

  • 10e.

    Charitable and non-charitable purpose trusts

  • 10f.

    Trustees: their appointment, removal, powers, duties and liabilities

  • 10g.

    Fiduciary duties and remedies for breach of these duties

  • 10h.

    Knowing receipt of trust property and dishonest assistance in breach of trust or fiduciary duty

  • 10i.

    The rights, remedies and powers of beneficiaries, including proprietary remedies after tracing

  • 10j.

    Equitable remedies: specific performance, injunctions, rescission, rectification and proprietary remedies

11. Constitutional law and EU law (including Human Rights)

  • 11a.

    The basic institutions (the Crown and Parliament, central government, devolved institutions, EU institutions and the judiciary) and principles of the British Constitution

  • 11b.

    The nature, status and procedure for passing primary and delegated legislation

  • 11c.

    Government accountability (and in particular the relationship between the Government and Parliament)

  • 11d.

    Parliamentary sovereignty

  • 11e.

    Separation of powers (including judicial independence)

  • 11f.

    The rule of law

  • 11g.

    The place of EU law in the constitution

  • 11h.

    Human Rights Act 1998 and key principles of anti-discrimination legislation

  • 11i.

    Judicial control of the Executive, in particular the process and principles of judicial review

12. Legal system of England and Wales

  • 12a.

    The main legal institutions (including the main legal professions)

  • 12b.

    Sources of law:

    • legislation
    • case law
    • European context
  • 12c.

    Rules of interpretation

  • 12d.

    Legal services

  • 12e.

    Funding of legal services

13. Civil litigation

  • 13a.

    Different options for dispute resolution: litigation, arbitration, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution

  • 13b.


  • 13c.

    Costs consequences, possible liability for costs and cost recoveries

  • 13d.

    Preliminary considerations: limitation, jurisdiction and applicable law

  • 13e.

    The Civil Procedure rules, including Practice Directions, Forms and Court Guides

  • 13f.

    Pre-action steps, court structure and choice of court, issue, service, acknowledgment of service, judgments in default and summary judgment, drafting and service of statements of case, disclosure, part 36 and other settlement offers, interim applications and interim remedies, preparing for trial, settlement

  • 13g.

    The court's case and costs management powers and duties

  • 13h.

    Evidence: expert witnesses and witnesses of fact

  • 13i.

    Key elements of trial procedure

  • 13j.

    Methods of enforcement and enforcement procedures

  • 13k.

    Rights of appeal and appeal procedures

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