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International regulation

In 2012, there were 7,823 solicitors holding practising certificates based abroad (outside England and Wales). This number increased by 7.6 per cent from 7,272 in 2011 to 7,823 in 2012.

The number of private practitioners working outside England and Wales has more than doubled in the last ten years. There has been an increase of 117.5 per cent since 2002 when 3,284 practising certificates holders were registered as working outside England and Wales.

The SRA estimates that in total there are nearly 17,000 solicitors based abroad in over 300 jurisdictions, including both those holding practising certificates and those who are simply on the roll of solicitors (qualified solicitors of England and Wales, who do not hold practising certificates).

Review of International regulation

The SRA started a review of international regulation in 2011. We supported this review as the way in which firms were regulated internationally had become increasingly complicated and yielded illogical results in terms of who was captured by regulation.

We responded to all three of the SRA’s consultations on this issue. Our last response, in June 2013, agreed that the SRA proposals represented a sensible and proportionate regulatory framework for overseas practice.

New SRA Overseas Rules

Although the SRA primarily regulates the provision of legal services by solicitors, firms and other authorised persons practising in England and Wales, it also needs to provide a regulatory framework for authorised persons and bodies established overseas in order to take account of the regulatory risk they pose in England and Wales.

A new version of the SRA Handbook was published on 1 October 2013 and this included new Overseas Rules as a separate chapter in the SRA Handbook.

View the Rules at the SRA’s website

International conferences on legal regulation

International conferences on legal regulation have been held in 2012, in London, and 2013, in San Francisco.

More about the conferences

More information

Information on the work of the Law Society's International Department, including the practical support, training, information and advice available to law firms and legal professionals working abroad:

The Law Society’s International work  

An overview of key legislation and organisations:

The regulatory regime in England and Wales

Related website:


The SRA Principles and the place of ethics webinar

Join this one-hour webinar to learn about the SRA principles in practice and how to abide by the standards compliantly. Available on-demand.

The SRA Principles and the place of ethics webinar > More