The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) plans for EU lawyers to require tests in order for them to qualify in England and Wales in the event of a no-deal Brexit has been cautioned against by the Law Society.

The Law Society warned against the plan’s potential detrimental effect on England and Wales’ attractiveness as a jurisdiction and position in Europe’s legal market, calling it an “unnecessary barrier to qualification.”

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ‘Most Favoured Nation’ principle would no longer apply. This means that the SRA would lose the ability grant professional qualifications to EU lawyers and disregard their obligation to take the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) tests.

There are currently two options which the SRA are considering for no-deal Brexit QLTS exemptions. Either making everyone from the QLTS obligated to take the tests or include an application process for all candidates from outside UK jurisdictions.

The Law Society has said that it strongly disagrees with the proposal to remove exemptions entirely. It was, however, pleased that the SRA is making plans for a no-deal Brexit, but feels that the WTO’s rules should be flexible enough for exemptions.

The SRA have said that mutual recognition arrangements or pre-existing arrangements in compliance with WTO rules would allow “England and Wales’ agreement with Ireland on automatic recognition to continue.” Adding that: “it is important for those lawyers who have studied EU law to be able to apply for exemptions on that basis.”


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