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Key features of the new transfer scheme

 

Last updated 29 November 2013

Jurisdictions covered

The new Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) covers lawyers from a wider range of jurisdictions than under the previous arrangements. Find out if your jurisdiction is on the list of recognised jurisdictions.

To be eligible to apply, you must be a qualified lawyer from a recognised jurisdiction.

Qualified lawyer means either:

  • (i) a lawyer whose qualification we have determined:
    • (A) gives the lawyer rights of audience;
    • (B) makes the lawyer an officer of the court in the recognised jurisdiction; and
    • (C) has been awarded as a result of a generalist (non-specialist) legal education and training; or
  • (ii) any other lawyer to whom we determine Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications applies.

Recognised jurisdiction means a jurisdiction where we have determined that:

  • (i) to become a qualified lawyer applicants have completed specific education and training at a level that is at least equivalent to that of an English/Welsh H-Level (e.g. Bachelor's) degree;
  • (ii) members of the qualified lawyer's profession are bound by an ethical code that requires them to act without conflicts of interest and to respect their client's interests and confidentiality; and
  • (iii) members of the qualified lawyer's profession are subject to disciplinary sanctions for breach of their ethical code, including the removal of the right to practise, and

all European jurisdictions to which Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications apply are "recognised jurisdictions" for the purposes of the QLTSR.

If your jurisdiction or qualification is not recognised, contact your home bar or law society and find out if they have applied to us for recognition. If they have not applied, they should contact us and request a survey.

Assessments

In most cases, international applicants must take and pass all of the assessments. However, if you have previously taken and passed the Legal Practice Course, you will not be required to take Part 1 (the multiple-choice test) of the QLTS assessment. Please refer to regulation 3.4 of the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Regulations 2011.

The assessments are designed to test applicants on most of the Day One Outcomes. These are the outcomes each solicitor who qualifies via the domestic route is expected to have achieved at the point of admission as a solicitor.

Applicants will not be tested on Outcome B and Outcome E, as these can be assumed of all qualified lawyers.

The assessments are in two parts:

  • Part 1 – A multiple-choice test will test Day One Outcome A.
  • Part 2 – An objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) tests parts C, D and F of the SRA’s Day one Outcomes, namely the further practical legal knowledge and skills expected of a newly qualified solicitor of England and Wales.

Part 1 must be passed before part 2 is attempted.

For more information visit www.kaplanqlts.com.

Re-taking assessments

The rules allow three attempts at each of the three parts of the assessments during the five-year validity of your certificate of eligibility. If you fail any part of the QLTS assessments three times, you will need to wait until the expiry of your existing certificate of eligibility before applying for a new one. This is to encourage you to take measures during this time to improve your results the next time around.

Assessment location and availability

The SRA has appointed one assessment organisation for the first three years of the operation of the assessments—Kaplan QLTS.

Please contact Kaplan QLTS to register and arrange your assessment programme when you receive your certificate of eligibility.

When you take your assessments, you will need to show that you have a certificate of eligibility and undergo an identity check.

Preparing for the assessments

You should assess your experience, knowledge and skills against the Day One Outcomes and decide how best to prepare for the assessments.

The assessment organisation, Kaplan QLTS, is not permitted to offer preparatory training for the assessments.

It is up to you to identify whether further training or work experience is necessary and to check the credentials of any training organisation you choose to help you to prepare for the assessments.

EEA, Northern Irish and Scottish lawyers, and barristers qualified in England and Wales

EEA, Northern Irish and Scottish lawyers, and barristers qualified in England and Wales will be individually assessed against the Day One Outcomes.

If you fall into this group, and you have met the Day One Outcomes through prior learning and experience, you will not need to take any assessments. However, if you have not met the Day One Outcomes, you may need to take one or more of the assessments.

EEA lawyers

If you are a registered European lawyer and meet the criteria in Article 10 of the Establishment of Lawyers directive 98/5/EC you can apply directly for admission. If you are seeking to qualify via directive 2005/36 (Recognition of Professional Qualifications), you must first apply for a QLTS certificate of eligibility and satisfy any conditions imposed on your certificate of eligibility

Partially qualified EEA nationals

If you are an EEA national but are not fully qualified in your own jurisdiction, you cannot apply for a QLTS certificate of eligibility. However, following the judgment in Morgenbesser v Consiglio dell'Ordine degli avvocati di Genova (Case C-313/01, 13 November 2003), you can apply to the SRA to assess the equivalence of your qualifications. Please contact us for an application form.

Pupil barristers in England and Wales

If you are a "pupil barrister" (i.e. a trainee barrister who has not completed pupillage) in England and Wales, you are not eligible to transfer into the solicitors' profession via the QLTS. All QLTS transferees must have completed the full route to qualification. The SRA is consulting on the accreditation of prior learning in relation to the Legal Practice Course (LPC). If the current proposals on the accreditation of prior learning are approved, BVC/BPTC graduates would be able to gain some exemptions from the LPC to qualify via the domestic route.

Experience requirements

The new transfer scheme removes the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Regulations experience requirement and, instead, uses practical exercises as an objective way of assessing applicants' ability to practise in England and Wales.

We have drawn on the experience of comparable regulators, such as the General Medical Council and General Dental Council, which use objective structured clinical examinations (known as OSCEs) to test their candidates.

English language requirements

If you are an international applicant applying via the QLTS2 application form or an intra-UK applicant applying via QLTS1 form, you must be able to show that you have achieved the Common European Framework for Reference Level C2 in English. You can show this in any the following ways:

  • Pass an English language test with an approved provider at CEFR Level C2 or above. Your test must have been passed within two years of your application for a certificate of eligibility.
  • Contact UK NARIC and ask them to assess your degree to show that it has been taught in English and is equivalent to a UK H-Level (e.g. bachelor's) degree. Please note that there is a fee for this service.
  • Demonstrate that you hold an H-Level (e.g. bachelor's) degree or higher from a university recognised by NARIC in a country in which NARIC has stated that all higher education takes place in English.
  • Show that you hold an H-Level (e.g. bachelor's) degree or above from a Department of Business, Innovation and Skills-recognised UK university.

Approved English language testing organisations

The following organisations have satisfied the SRA's requirements to provide English language tests:

When you submit your application to the SRA for a certificate of eligibility, you will be asked to provide details of your test results. The SRA will verify the results directly with the testing organisation.

SRA core requirements for English language testing organisations

  • Candidates are capable of being tested at CEFR Level C2.
  • Candidates are tested on reading, writing, listening and speaking ability.
  • There is a system of independent test report verification (i.e. means by which the SRA can independently check candidates' results against the providers' own records).
  • There is ID verification throughout the testing process to ensure the security of its tests and test results including established methods to deal with candidate identity fraud.

In addition to the core requirements, organisations have provided evidence to demonstrate that they have in place an appropriate policy and process for dealing with requests for reasonable adjustments and for ensuring the standard, validity and reliability of the assessments.