SQE1 Functioning Legal Knowledge Assessment Specification

31 October 2019

We are still considering whether a skills assessment will be included in SQE1, so this assessment specification does not include this. We are looking to make a decision in 2020, after we evaluate the findings from the SQE2 pilot. If we decide to include a skills assessment in the final SQE1, it will, at most, cover legal research, analysis and writing skills.

Overview of SQE1 Functioning Legal Knowledge assessments

The two SQE1 Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments comprise the following subject areas:

  1. Business Law and Practice; Dispute Resolution; Contract; Tort; Legal System of England and Wales; Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services.
  2. Property Practice; Wills and the Administration of Estates; Solicitors Accounts; Land Law; Trusts; Criminal Law and Practice.

Within each of the above FLK assessments, questions may draw on any combination of the subject areas which might be encountered in practice.

Ethics and Professional Conduct will be examined pervasively across the two assessments above.

Principles of taxation will be examined only in the context of:

  • Business Law and Practice
  • Property Law and Practice
  • Wills and the Administration of Estates.

Below subject areas are grouped within two sections giving details of each of the two FLK assessments. For each area, assessment objectives are set out, followed by the knowledge of law and practice which candidates are expected to apply in order to answer the questions.

Functioning Legal Knowledge

The depth and breadth of knowledge of English and Welsh law required of candidates is that of functioning legal knowledge. This means that candidates must apply their knowledge of the law to demonstrate the competences required to the level of a newly qualified solicitor of England and Wales.

The core legal principles and rules a candidate will be asked to apply are identified by subject area below. A candidate should be able to apply these fundamental legal principles and rules appropriately and effectively at the level required of a competent newly qualified solicitor in practice, to realistic client-based and ethical problems and situations. Each single best answer question is followed by five possible answers. Candidates should mark only one answer for each question.

The SQE1 FLK assessments are closed book. The questions in the assessments are designed to test the application of fundamental legal principles which can be expected of a newly qualified solicitor of England and Wales without reference to books and notes. They are not designed to test matters of detail which a newly qualified solicitor would be expected to look up.

Candidates will be tested on the law as it stands at the date of the assessment. They will not be assessed on the development of the law.

The relationship between the Statement of Solicitor Competence (SoSC) and the legal principles and rules which candidates must know and apply is indicated at Annex 3. In the FLK assessments, candidates will be tested at level 3 of the Threshold Standard - ie that of the newly qualified solicitor – as set out in Annex 6.

Application of Legal Principles and Rules

The following illustrations of the range of question style used to test the FLK are not intended to be exhaustive:

  1. A question may require the candidate to both identify and apply a fundamental legal principle or rule.
  2. A question may identify the relevant legal principle or rule and require the candidate to identify how it should be properly applied, and/or the outcome of that proper application.
  3. A candidate may be required to demonstrate that they understand whether a client can legally achieve a desired outcome and offer appropriate explanatory advice.
  4. Where the legal result of a client's action is already established by the question, the candidate may be required to identify why the application of a legal principle or rule produces that result in law and/or what the relevant legal principle or rule is.
  5. A question may require a candidate to perform a calculation by applying rules, rates, percentages and thresholds to identify a correct figure. For questions on taxation, candidates will be expected to remember certain thresholds and rates of tax and to be aware of the availability of certain reliefs and exemptions where these have been part of the UK tax system for a considerable period. However, within the UK tax system, many rates and thresholds and some exemptions and reliefs are subject to adjustment, introduction or removal by successive Budgets, and for those, the figures required to work out an answer to any tax calculation would normally be provided.

Published sample questions will provide examples of the style of questions which may be used to test the candidate's ability to apply the fundamental legal principles and rules that are set out in this assessment specification.

Legal Authorities

On occasion in legal practice a case name or statutory provision, for example, is the term normally used to describe a legal principle or an area of law, or a rule or procedural step (eg Rylands v Fletcher, CPR Part 36, Section 25 notice). In such circumstances, candidates are required to know and be able to use such case names, statutory provisions etc. In all other circumstances candidates are not required to recall specific case names, or cite statutory or regulatory authorities.

Subject Matter

The FLK assessments for SQE1 will sample from the content indicated in this assessment specification. A blueprint is provided at Annex 3.

Ethics and professional conduct

Candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to act honestly and with integrity, and in accordance with the SRA Standards and Regulations as follows:

The purpose, scope and content of the SRA Principles

The purpose, scope and content of the:

  • SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs
  • SRA Code of Conduct for Firms in relation to:
    • Managers in authorised firms
    • Compliance Officers.

Together referred to as the Code of Conduct.

See SoSC (A1) at Annex 1.

Ethics and professional conduct will be examined pervasively across all subject areas.

FLK assessment 1: Business Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contract, Tort, Legal System, Public Law, Legal Services

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FLK Assessment 2: Property Practice, Wills and the Administration of Estates, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, Criminal

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