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Changes to foreign solicitor qualification criteria in event of no-deal Brexit


The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed changes to the foreign solicitor qualification criteria in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


The changes would affect how non-UK solicitors would qualify in England and Wales once the UK has left the European Union without a deal.


Current legislation enables EU lawyers to apply for exemptions on a topic-by-topic basis from the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which all foreign-qualified lawyers must sit to qualify in England and Wales.


No such exemptions are currently offered to lawyers from outside the EU, however.


The SRA says that changes to the current arrangements would be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as under World Trade Organisation rules it would no longer be possible to offer preferential treatment to EU lawyers.


As a result, in the future, all foreign lawyers would be able to apply for exemptions, but these would only be offered on the basis that they cover the entirety of either or both parts of the QLTS.


“Whether exemptions are granted will continue to depend upon a case-by-case review of that lawyer's qualifications and experience,” said the SRA in a statement.


“EU-based lawyers wishing to apply under the current exemptions regime can still do so, providing their application is received before the date any no-deal Brexit becomes effective.”


The SRA added that, regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations, arrangements for solicitors from Scotland and Northern Ireland would  continue unchanged.


“We consulted on these potential changes in December 2018, with feedback from stakeholders and the profession broadly in favour of the proposed approach.


“The Government has now made legislative changes to the EU (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations, which will come into effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”


SRA Chief Executive, Paul Philip, added:


“Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, it is important that we are prepared to make sure the transition to any new arrangements takes place as seamlessly as possible, with as little disruption as possible for the profession – or the public who need their services.”

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