Registered European lawyers and registered foreign lawyers

Registered European lawyers (RELs)

  • Establishment of Lawyers Directive 98/5/EC

  • SRA Amendment to Regulatory Arrangements (Changes to regulation of entities owned or managed by Registered European Lawyers) Rules 2014 (PDF 4 pages, 27K)

    Version 13 of the SRA Handbook, which comes into effect on 1 April 2015, contains changes to allow entities owned or managed by Registered European Lawyers (RELs) to operate within England and Wales without necessarily needing to do so through an SRA-authorised body.

    This is primarily achieved by a change to rule 2.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules which permits a REL to practise in England and Wales through an 'Exempt European Practice' (EEP). This type of body is defined in the SRA Glossary to be any type of structure in which lawyers are permitted to practise in their home Establishment Directive state and which is regulated as a lawyer's practice in that state and has its main place of business in an Establishment Directive State other than the UK. No practising lawyers of England and Wales may be owners of the business, and it cannot carry out any reserved work.

    Consequential changes on the rest of the SRA Handbook are made as a result of the introduction of this new flexibility to permit RELs to practise in the UK in this type of unauthorised entity.

    RELs will continue to be required to register in accordance with the Establishment Directive and to be individually authorised and regulated by the SRA. The change to the SRA Practising Regulations will require individual RELs practising in EEPs to register the details of the EEP with the SRA and ensure their practising details remain up to date.

    The change to the SRA Practice Framework Regulations will apply an appropriate regulatory regime to individual RELs practising through EEPs. As a result:

    • the SRA Principles will continue to apply;
    • the SRA Code of Conduct will apply as it does to in-house solicitors,
    • although RELs will be exempt from the requirements of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules, they will be required to ensure that the work they do is covered by reasonably equivalent professional indemnity insurance;
    • RELs will be under an obligation to ensure that their clients are informed in writing that the entity is not regulated and that the compulsory insurance scheme does not apply and must ensure that the notepaper used satisfies the requirements set out in the registration process for RELs in EEPs;
    • the SRA Compensation Fund will apply to individual RELs, requiring them to make annual contributions and extending the protection of the Fund to their eligible clients.
    • the SRA Accounts Rules will apply to RELs in EEPs in a modified form in circumstances in which client money is held or received.

Registered foreign lawyers (RFLs)

Visiting lawyers from other European states