SRA Admission

A trainee solicitor who has completed their period of training is entitled to apply for SRA admission to the Roll. This application can be relatively straightforward but there are times when it can be anything but. Some applicants will need assistance to complete the relevant application forms.

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All applications for admission to the Roll are considered by a case worker at the SRA. In certain circumstances they will decide to refuse an application. In those circumstances, a report will be prepared for an SRA Adjudicator to consider the application which will include the case worker’s recommendation that the application be refused. The applicant will be invited to make written representations which will be considered by the Adjudicator alongside the case worker’s report. It is open to the Adjudicator to disagree with the case worker’s recommendation and allow an application or to follow the recommendation and refuse the application.

If an Adjudicator refuses an application, there is a right of appeal to an Adjudication Panel, comprising three members. There will be an opportunity to make further representations to support the application. These representations can be in writing or in certain circumstances delivered orally to the panel.

In the event that the Adjudication Panel refuses an application, there is a further right of appeal, this time to the High Court.

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What is the Character and Suitability Test?

The SRA Suitability Test 2011 is to be found in the SRA Handbook. It is designed to enable the SRA to “ensure that any individual admitted as a solicitor has, and maintains, the level of honesty, integrity and the professionalism expected by the public and other stakeholders and professionals, and does not pose a risk to the public or the profession”.

The Test is divided into 2 parts. New solicitors only need concern themselves with Part 1 (Part 2 deals with applications regarding Compliance Officers and those seeking authorisation).

Criminal offences

An applicant will need to disclose any conviction or caution (unless they are protected convictions or cautions) as well as any ongoing criminal matters. The applicant will also need to tell the SRA about any warnings, penalty notices, reprimands or referral orders.

Even where cautions or convictions are deemed to be spent, the applicant will still need to tell the SRA about them.

Assessment offences

An applicant will need to disclose whether they have ever been adjudged to have committed an assessment offence. The SRA has made it clear that an assessment offence is to be treated as dishonesty and they will not grant admission unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Financial behaviour

An applicant will need to disclose whether they have ever been declared bankrupt, entered into any Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or had a County Court Judgment (CCJ) issued against them because the SRA wants to ensure the financial stability of all those seeking admission to the Roll and their ability to manage their finances.

Regulatory history

An applicant will need to disclose whether they have been refused admission to another regulatory body or are (or have been) the subject of disciplinary proceedings taken by another regulator.

Any other behavious

The SRA have included a catch all in the character and suitability test to cover all other behaviours which might affect an individual’s application for admission. This category covers a variety of situations and would cover conduct which is not necessarily a criminal offence but which calls into question an applicant’s suitability for admission to the Roll.

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What if I need to disclose something?

Unfortunately, there will be times when an applicant will need to disclose the existence of a set of circumstances which will call into question character and suitability for admission to the Roll. If you fail to disclose fully, the SRA has made it clear that this amounts to prima facie evidence of dishonesty meaning that it will be very difficult to gain admission now or in the future. It is not unheard of for the SRA to indicate that had circumstances been disclosed, they would not have hindered an application for admission but that the failure to disclose will mean an application will result in a refusal.

If you are in a position where you have to make a disclosure to the SRA, you will need to ensure that you deal with the following:

Evidence

The applicant will need to send the SRA evidence of the circumstances surrounding the issue for disclosure. It can include the following:

– at least one independent report relating to the circumstances (for example a court record of a conviction);
– references from at least two independent professional people (who are aware of the circumstances of the relevant disclosure);
– evidence of rehabilitation;
– documentary evidence/corroboration of your account of the matter;
– details of the applicant’s attitude towards the matter;
– up to date credit checks; and/or
– steps taken to clear any debts and manage finances.

Rehabilitation

The SRA has made it clear that nobody has an automatic right of admission and it will always be for the applicant “to discharge the burden of satisfying suitability under this test. Any application that requires us [the SRA] to be satisfied as to character, suitability, fitness and propriety will be determined by reference to this test”.

The onus will be on an applicant to show that they have undergone successful rehabilitation where relevant.

What we do

Our services include assisting you:

– By advising you as to the procedure and your prospects for success;
– To complete the relevant application forms;
– To make disclosures about issues relating to the Character and Suitability test and to present evidence of rehabilitation;
– Making written representations to an adjudicator or Adjudication Panel on your behalf;
– Appealing the decision of the Adjudication Panel.

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Our multidisciplinary team is made up of specialists in a wide range of services, which means you'll always be represented by an expert in your area.

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Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation, fully confidential call to discuss your case and work out if you want to continue.

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Speak to solicitors in one of our offices throughout England and Wales, or arrange calls and remote meetings.

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