End to preferential treatment for EU lawyers qualifying in England and Wales under no-deal Brexit

Lawyers from EU jurisdictions would no longer be offered preferential treatment when qualifying in England and Wales if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in England and Wales has today confirmed rule changes which would take effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Under current legislation, EU lawyers are able to apply for exemptions on a topic by topic basis from the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which all foreign-qualified lawyers must sit to qualify in England and Wales. No such exemptions are currently offered to lawyers from beyond the EU.

Changes to the current arrangements would be required in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, it would no longer be possible to offer preferential treatment to EU lawyers, the SRA said.

In future, all foreign lawyers will be able to apply for exemptions, but these would only be offered on the basis that they cover the entirety of either or both parts of the QLTS. Whether exemptions are granted will continue to depend upon a case-by-case review of that lawyer’s qualifications and experience.

EU-based lawyers wishing to apply under the current exemptions regime can still do so, providing their application is received before the date any no deal Brexit becomes effective.

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, arrangements for solicitors from Scotland and Northern Ireland will continue unchanged.

The UK government has made legislative changes to the EU (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations which will come into effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: “Whatever the outcome of the negotiations it is important that we are prepared to make sure the transition to any new arrangements takes place as seamlessly as possible, with as little disruption as possible for the profession or the public who need their services.”

Tags: QLTS, Brexit, SRA

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