The Junior Lawyers Division is calling for a review of the process that controversially approved the Solicitors Qualifying Exam

The body representing junior lawyers has called for greater scrutiny of decisions made by the legal profession’s ‘super regulator’ after the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) was approved amid widespread criticism.

Last year, the Legal Services Board (LSB) decided to approve the introduction of the SQE despite opposition from law lecturers, City law firms and the chair of Parliament’s justice select committee. As reported in the Law Gazette, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) is now demanding a review into why there is no “appeal or oversight mechanism” in the Legal Services Act, which sets out the rules governing the LSB’s decision-making powers.

Included in the act are the strict criteria that set out when the LSB can reject an application from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which is championing the new ‘super exam’. In the JLD’s view, these criteria are too weak. The JLD said: “Many of the concerns raised about the SQE by various parties suggested that its introduction would be contrary to the public interest, would not be in the interest of consumers and would result in lower professional standards.

“Given the strength, breadth and nature of opposition to the SRA’s SQE application, the JLD is concerned that either the LSB misapplied the refusal criteria or that the refusal criteria themselves are inadequate.

“If the former, then the absence of an appeal or oversight mechanism in the act is a problem which needs to be addressed. If the latter, then the refusal criteria themselves need amendment.”

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