SRA – Help with admission to the roll

We act for trainee solicitors on applications for admission to the Roll. We advise on the effect of the SRA Suitability Test and the submissions to make. We also advise on appeals and we ensure that the submissions and appeals take account of the case law.

An application to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for admission to the Roll will initially be considered by an SRA caseworker. If the caseworker believes that there is a good reason for refusing the application, the caseworker will prepare a report for an SRA Adjudicator. The applicant will then be given an opportunity to make written submissions on the report and the report will be referred to adjudication. Those written submissions should be prepared with care and we can advise on their content.

If the SRA adjudicator refuses the application, there is an internal right of appeal to an adjudication committee, and the committee will in appropriate circumstances invite the applicant to an oral hearing so that an explanation for a matter of concern can be provided in person. There is a further right of appeal to the High Court.

Character and suitability of a trainee solicitor

In Jideofo v The Law Society (unreported 31 July 2007) Sir Anthony Clarke, the then Master of the Rolls, considered the appropriate test for determining the character and suitability of a trainee solicitor applying for admission to the Roll. He endorsed the following propositions:

  1. The test of character and suitability is necessarily a high test
  2. The character and suitability test is not concerned with punishment, reward or redemption, but with whether there is a risk to the public or a risk that there may be damage to the reputation of the profession
  3. No one has the right to be admitted as a solicitor and it is for the applicant to discharge the burden of satisfying the test of character and suitability

The test set out above applies to an individual applying for enrolment as a student member of the Law Society, as well as a trainee solicitor applying for admission to the Roll.

The central feature of the test is the reputation of the profession. The court must place far greater weight on the collective reputation of the profession than on any personal misfortune which might arise from refusal to enrol or admit, no matter how much personal sympathy the judge may have for the student or trainee solicitor. Any applicant should carefully bear that case law in mind when making submissions to the SRA or appealing an SRA decision on enrolment or admission.

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