SQE, Foreign Qualified Lawyers & Exemptions

If you are a Foreign Qualified Lawyer (not England & Wales) then you may get exemption from some or all of the requirements for qualifying as an English Solicitor under the SQE route.

Normally you will be exempt from the requirement to have your QWE confirmed to the SRA.

You may also get exemption from the SQE1 or the SQE2 exam. This will depend upon what the SRA decides. Do check with them direct: [email protected]

Below is a link to the SRA website page where you can see what SQE exemptions have been agreed so far for certain jurisdictions. You will see that several have been considered but exemption not given. Where it has been given there is a link to apply for the exemption for yourself.


Exemptions - general

These can be applied for by an individual or on a jurisdictional basis. However, you still have to apply to the SRA for the exemption. For the SRA it is an exercise in comparative law between the 2 jurisdictions. On a webinar we attended the SRA said that it was unlikely that they would be unlikely to grant an exemption to SQE1 for a civil law jurisdiction, as the legal systems are so different.

SQE1 - this will be harder to obtain from the SRA. You will need to show a) what the home qualification covers and b) that it is not substantially different from the law in England & Wales.

SQE2 - this might be a little easier. You will need to show that the practice rights and way that lawyers in that jurisdiction practice law is substantially the same as in the England & Wales jurisdiction.

English Language - the SRA did make a point that they regard it as important that a qualified English solicitor can speak and write English (or Welsh). So, if they have not been able to assess this, because someone has been granted exemption from the SQE2 exam, they may, at the point to assessing your application to be admitted and an English Solicitor, requite you to sit a test to prove your competence in speaking & writing in English.

QLTS: Abolished with the introduction of the SQE. If you've passed the MCT, the last sitting of the 2nd exam to qualify through the QLTS route has now happened so you cannot complete your qualification through the QLTS route. You have to qualify as a solicitor of England & Wales through the SQE route. If you have passed the MCT the SRA will grant you exemption from the SQE1 exam (but you do need to ask them for this exemption). If you want to apply for exemption from the SQE2 exam then see below.

Applying for an exemption for SQE2

You may do this if your country or jurisdiction appears on the list on this page (meaning that the SRA has studied it and found this appropriate): https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/qualified-lawyers/sqe-exemptions/

Below you will find the form to apply for exemption. This is our understanding of the rules on how to apply as a foreign qualified lawyer for an exemption from having to take SQE2:

Section 7a – 2 years professional legal work experience was gained as part of your qualification: upload the form to your 'MySRA' portal + presumably proof of qualification + fee £265

Section 7b – instead, 2 years professional legal work experience was gained post qualification: you need also to get a reference for this work and a ‘certificate of good standing’ from your local legal regulatory body + upload the form to your 'MySRA' portal + presumably proof of qualification+ fee £265

Section 7c – your 2 years professional legal work experience is a combination of both post qualification and as part of your qualification: you have to do what is required for both 7a & 7b above.

Section 8 – you do not have 2 years professional legal work experience: you will have to fill in the table at section 8 and submit with it a dossier of supporting evidence + fee £265. (We may be able to assist you with this. So far, we have helped over 30 people with confirming their QWE to the SRA. This looks similar, but requires the submission of a dossier of evidence.)

You will also have to complete sections 1-4 of the form before submitting it to the SRA through your 'MySRA' portal with presumably proof of qualification and their fee of £265.

Below see our notes of our research on what the SRA would like in the supervisor refernec that you will have to supply with 7b and 7c above.

If your regulatory body asks what should be in a Certificate of Good Standing, we also have asked the SRA but not been given any guidance. Perhaps having a look at what the SRA themselves when asked to produce a Certificate of Good Standing, might give some guidance. Here is a link to the page on their website about that: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/certificates/certificate-good-standing/

Submitting your Application to the SRA

To make your application apply online in mySRA. If you do not already have an account, you will need to create an account to access the form.  

Once logged in, select 'Start new applications' on the homepage. The application is called 'Apply for qualified lawyer exemption from the SQE assessments'.

Make sure you upload everything they ask and don't forget to pay them their fee.

The SRA say they will let you know their decision within 180 days of receipt of the application for exemption.

External QWE Confirmation Service

If you need someone to confirm your QWE and there is no-one in your organisation - we can help. Please see the link below:

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