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New criminal Legal Aid firms advised to apply for authorisation early

Solicitors Regulation Authority

2 min read Partner content

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is advising new entities bidding for criminal Legal Aid contracts but which are not yet authorised to practise to make an application for authorisation as soon as possible.

The SRA is aware that a number of bidders are new entrants to the profession, but have not yet applied for authorisation. A handful made enquiries last week about the process.

Jane Malcolm, SRA Executive Director, External Affairs, said: "Firms will need to have authorisation in place before they can practice, and deadlines are approaching. We turn around applications as quickly as we can, but some firms might have complex needs which take more time to work through.

"By getting in touch with us now, firms will not only have a clearer picture of what they need to do to get authorised, they will make sure they have plenty of time to do so.”

According to the Legal Aid Agency:

• Applicants for the duty solicitor scheme starting on 1 April 2017 must have passed the agency's verification process, which includes authorisation by a relevant professional body, by 12 December 2016

• Applicants that want to join the duty solicitor scheme from 1 July 2017, or have failed the first verification (for the duty solicitor slots starting on 1 April), or will only be working under an own-client contract, until 28 February 2017 to confirm that they are authorised

The SRA processes most applications in 28 days, but complex applications can take longer.

The SRA’s website also provides information on firm-based authorisation,, covering what the process entails, what information is needed, and how decisions are made.


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