Currently, lawyers from other European Union (EU) states can requalify as solicitors of England and Wales through the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS).
The EU regulations, such as the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ), allow candidates’ competencies to be examined to see whether they need to pass an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period
If appropriate, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) gives exemptions to EU lawyers.
In December 2018, the SRA issued a consultation on what the options are for the QLTS for non-UK lawyers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The SRA believes the regime will need to change to comply with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, such as the Most Favoured Nation principle. The principle does not allow for preferential treatment of one or more WTO members over others.
The SRA set out two options. These were to permit:
- no exemptions from the QLTS
- candidates from all non-UK jurisdictions to apply for exemptions from either the multiple choice test or the objective structured clinical examination, or both
We supported the SRA putting in place contingency plans for the changes needed to comply with WTO rules.
However, we strongly disagreed with the first option – to permit no exemptions from the QLTS. It would make it harder for lawyers from both within and outside EU jurisdictions to qualify.
We think there’s room for exemptions, for example, by the Mutual Recognition Agreements or other existing arrangements in compliance with the WTO obligations.
We also believe it’s important for lawyers who’ve studied EU law to be able to apply for exemptions. We understand that EU law will for the moment remain as one of the core subjects required by the SRA to become a solicitor.
What this means for solicitors
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, all foreign lawyers will 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.
What we're doing
January 2019 – we responded to the SRA’s consultation on exemptions from QLTS