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updated on 02 February 2023
The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) has been replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). Only lawyers who’ve already started qualifying through the QLTS can continue to qualify this way.
The QLTS enables lawyers who qualified in jurisdictions outside of the UK to practise as solicitors in England and Wales, and is governed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SQE still enables lawyers who are unable to qualify via the QLTS to qualify as solicitors in the UK – there’s more on this below.
Do I fall within the transitional arrangements for the QLTS?
If a qualified lawyer has started the QLTS but not yet passed the multiple-choice test (MCT), they’ll have to qualify via the SQE route as the final MCT has already taken place.
If they’ve passed the MCT, they can continue to complete their QLTS qualification by taking the SQE2 assessment during 2023. They will not be required to sit SQE1 and will have three attempts to pass SQE2 to qualify via QLTS. Once they’ve passed SQE2, they must meet the SRA’s requirements and apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors by 31 March 2024 (inclusive). The final opportunity to take the assessment will be in October 2023. Otherwise, they’ll have to qualify via the SQE route.
More information on the SQE can be found via LCN’s SQE hub.
The SRA has more information regarding transitional arrangements on its website.
"Qualifying by taking SQE1 and applying for an SQE2 exemption"
“I have to qualify via the SQE route, what are the steps?”
“I passed April 2022’s OSCE, what do I do next?”
Qualifying by taking SQE1 and applying for an SQE2 exemption
As an alternative to passing SQE2, candidates who have passed the MCT, may opt to qualify by taking SQE1 and applying for an exemption from SQE2. This option is now available to all qualified lawyers. To be eligible, qualified lawyers must generally have at least two years of legal experience in their jurisdiction or in English law.
Given that SQE1 is available internationally, its fees are less expensive than SQE2 and the SQE1 format is less demanding than the assessments that make up SQE2, many QLTS candidates who have passed the MCT are choosing the latter option (ie, applying for an SQE2 exemption).
Bar course graduates can no longer use the system to qualify as a solicitor and must now take the SQE. To be eligible for the QLTS, barristers must have completed a pupillage. There’s more information on this below.
The QLTS assessments are in two parts. Part one is the MCT, which qualified lawyers must have passed to continue to qualify via QLTS. The last sitting of the QLTS MCT took place in July 2021.
Part two was formerly the OSCE, which tested five skills: interviewing, advocacy, online legal research, drafting and writing. SQE2 will now make up part two for candidates who’ve passed the MCT and wish to continue qualifying via the QLTS.
Kaplan QLTS is the sole assessor for the SRA and accordingly isn’t authorised to provide training courses for the assessments.
QLTS School is a training provider for the QLTS, which previously offered preparation courses for the two parts of the QLTS. Following the introduction of the SQE, QLTS School has introduced SQE preparation courses.
You can find out more about SQE prep courses in LCN’s guide.
You must meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements
Applicants will be subject to a full check on character and suitability when they apply for admission. This means that among other checks, the SRA will require a certificate of good standing from the applicant’s home Bar/professional/regulatory body.
I have to qualify via the SQE route, what are the steps?
The QLTS has been replaced by the SQE. To become a solicitor of England and Wales, qualified lawyers no longer need to be in one of the SRA’s recognised jurisdictions. However, they must:
The SRA will recognise lawyers’ existing qualifications and experience so there’s no need to complete qualifying work experience in this instance.
If a barrister who’s completed pupillage wants to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales, they must:
If they’ve not completed pupillage, the barrister will need to complete the above steps, as well as register two years’ QWE ahead of applying for admission (ie, qualify via the SQE).
If a Scottish solicitor wants to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales, they must:
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland solicitor
If a Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland solicitor wants to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales, they must apply for admission and meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
According to the SRA, they’re exempt from the SQE and its QWE requirements.
CILEX practitioner or chartered legal executive
If a CILEX practitioner or chartered legal executive wants to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales, they must:
The chartered legal executive equivalent means route is still available to qualify through until 31 December 2032 if the applicant completed, started or accepted an offer on:
They must then apply for admission and meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
I passed April 2022's OSCE, what do I do next?
If you passed the OSCE in April 2022, you now need to meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements before applying for admission to the roll. If this applies to you, you have only until 31 January 2023 to do this “provided you meet the conditions” of the SRA’s waiver.
What’s the waiver?
The SRA introduced a waiver to one of its regulations so that qualified lawyers who had already passed the MCT (before 1 September 2021) and the April 2022 sitting of the OSCE can have until 31 January 2023 to apply for admission as a solicitor.
If you’ve already passed the OSCE, but not in the April 2022 sitting, the SRA asks for you to get in touch to find out your options.
The SRA also welcomes applications for admission from qualified lawyers who are in jurisdictions where there’s political unrest. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. If you fall within this category, the SRA’s QLTS team ([email protected]) is on hand to offer more information and discuss your personal situation so they can provide advice on your next steps. Visit the SRA website to find out how to get in touch.
Admission to the Roll of Solicitors
When an applicant has completed and passed the QLTS or SQE assessments and fulfilled any other outstanding requirements set by the SRA, they’ll be eligible to apply for admission to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales.
The SRA will carry out a full financial check and require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) standard disclosure at the point of admission, so it can check whether the applicant has a criminal background.
The SRA will also conduct a character and suitability check and require a Certificate of Good Standing from the applicant’s home professional body or regulator in which they’re registered. This must have been issued no more than three months before the SRA receives the application for admission.
Once the SRA has received a satisfactory result from these checks, it can process the application for admission to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales and the applicant will receive their certificate of admission and can apply for a practising certificate.
If an applicant doesn’t intend to practise in England and Wales following successful completion of the assessments, they can still maintain their name on the roll.
More information on the changes taking place, the transitional arrangements and steps required can be found on the SRA’s website.