SRA launches debate on foreign lawyers

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has today launched the final consultation into the new qualified lawyers transfer scheme.


SRA launches debate on foreign lawyersThe Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has today launched the final consultation into the new qualified lawyers transfer scheme (QLTS).

The controversial scheme had caused uproar earlier this year when the SRA sought to put in interim measures for the qualified lawyers transfer test (QLTT) while the initiative was being finalised (The Lawyer, 11 February).

At the time the College of Law and others from the legal profession claimed the SRA’s measures were “anti-diversity” and restricted foreign lawyers abilities to work in the UK.

Dr Jonathan Spencer, SRA’s education and training committee chair, said an overhaul of the QLTS was needed.

“The proposed new scheme would be based on the same standards of knowledge, skills and intellect, and the same test of character and suitability, that now underpin the domestic route to qualification,” said Spencer. “This would be fairer than the present system.”

The new consultation, which will close on 6 February 2009, proposes the introduction of three assessment schemes – one for UK qualified lawyers, one for overseas lawyers and an aptitude test for those from Europe.

It also suggests bringing in one organisation to manage assessments for the SRA and opening up eligibility to transfer from a wider range of jurisdictions than at present. The proposals if accepted will not take effect before 2010.

Clifford Chance head of HR development Tony King (pictured), a review group member, said the transfer regulations were long overdue for a review.

“The training environment has changed around it [the QLTS] but that route has remained largely static,” said King. “All the stakeholders – the regulators, the profession, the providers, would-be entrants – need to work together to ensure the regime is fit for purpose for the benefit of the profession and the public.”