Super-regulator delays SQE approval decision

The Law Gazette

22 September 2020

The Legal Services Board has delayed its decision on whether to approve the new solicitor ‘super-exam’ until the end of October, in the wake of more resistance from the profession.

In an extension notice sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the LSB said it needs to make additional enquiries about the Solicitors Qualifying Exam to ‘fully understand the impact of the proposed change for both consumers and the profession’.

It has extended its decision period to 90 days in accordance with the Legal Services Act 2007 – up from an initial 28 days – and said it will make a decision by 28 October 2020, if not before. The SRA submitted its final SQE application on 31 July.

Many legal professionals and academics have objected to the SRA’s plans to overhaul solicitor training, claiming the SQE will lower standards and risk creating a two-tier profession.

Last month, a group of five law subject associations, with a combined membership of over 4,000 law academics, wrote to the LSB urging it not to grant the SRA’s application for final approvals.

‘The proposed arrangements are prejudicial to the regulatory objectives in that (1) they will not improve access to justice; (2) they do not protect and promote the interests of consumers… and (3) they do not encourage a strong, diverse and effective legal profession,’ the letter stated.

The SQE is due to be introduced in September 2021 and back in June - nearly a decade after commencing work on the new ‘super exam’ - the SRA signed off on the final design.

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