What is the SQE?
Who is the SQE for?
Costs and fees
Dates and locations
The assessment day
Results and resits
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A number of questions have been raised about the interpretation of the Assessment Specifications and particularly the detail of the Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK).
It is not helpful or appropriate to specify the FLK in minute detail. Doing so can raise as many questions as it answers and can lead to the creation of an unnecessarily large and unwieldy volume of information.
However reading the Assessment Specification holistically should assist those asking for more detail. Within the Assessment Specification for SQE2, the following sections are particularly useful: Practice Areas, Level of Legal Detail Required, Application of Law, Correct and Comprehensive Application of Law, and Legal Materials as well as the information (Overview, Assessment Objectives and Assessment Criteria) about each of the assessments.
It is worth noting particularly that:
To ensure the fairness and integrity of the SQE, information about the Assessment Specifications will be released to all stakeholders at the same time. There will be an annual review of the FLK to
Any questions raised by stakeholders will be fed into this annual review process.
The legal skills assessments in SQE2 are:
Further detail about each of these assessments is given in Assessments in SQE2.
Although there is no separate assessment called negotiation, all deliveries of SQE2 will contain at least one assessment involving negotiation. Negotiation may be assessed in either interview and attendance note/legal analysis and/or case and matter analysis and/or legal writing.
The practice areas in which these legal skills are assessed are:
Questions in these practice areas may draw on underlying black letter law in the Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) as follows:
Professionalism and ethics will be core parts of SQE2. Questions on ethics will be pervasive throughout SQE2. Ethical issues will not be flagged and candidates will need to identify any ethical and professional conduct issues and exercise judgment to resolve them honestly and with integrity.
Questions involving taxation may arise in Property Practice; Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice; and Business organisations, rules and procedures.
Detail of the examinable content covered is given in Annex 1. Property Practice is under the headings freehold and leasehold real estate law and practice and core principles of planning law. Annex 1 is a sub-set of the FLK in SQE1. For the avoidance of doubt the legal system of England and Wales, constitutional and administrative law and EU law, legal services (apart from money laundering and financial services) and solicitors’ accounts are not examined in SQE2. Money laundering and financial services are examinable in the context of business organisations, rules and procedures.
For practical purposes SQE2 is divided into two parts as follows:
The assessments in SQE2 oral are:
SQE2 oral will take place over two half days. The following table shows the assessments candidates will undertake on each of the days. Candidates will take a total of four oral legal skills assessments.
Please note that different candidates may complete the assessments in different orders. Candidates may therefore start with either the interview and attendance note/legal analysis or the advocacy.
Further details of the assessments are available in Assessments in SQE2 as follows: Client interviewing and completion of attendance note/legal analysis and Advocacy.
The assessments in SQE2 written are:
SQE2 written takes place over three half-days. You will take a total of 12 written legal skills assessments.
You may complete the assessments in a different order to that listed.
Further details of the assessments are available in Assessments in SQE2 as follows: Case and matter analysis, Legal research, Legal writing and Legal drafting
The interviewing station will be marked by the assessor playing the role of the client and will be marked on skills only. The attendance note and all other stations will be marked by a solicitor who will assess candidates on both skills and application of law.
The assessment criteria against which candidates will be judged in each of the six types of legal skills stations are provided at Assessments in SQE2 below. Performance in each of these criteria will be assessed on a scale from A – F by trained assessors making global professional judgments related to the standard of competency of the assessment1 as follows:
This grading will then be converted into numerical marks such that A = 5 marks and F = 0 marks.
The marking criteria for each of the stations has been divided into marks for skills and marks for application of law. In arriving at a final mark for the candidate across all assessments, skills and application of law are weighted equally. This is to make sure that adequate weighting is given to the quality of the advice provided.
In demonstrating that they have reached the standard of competency of a Day One Solicitor, candidates will need to demonstrate that they can apply fundamental legal principles in the skills based situations covered by SQE2 in a way that addresses the client’s needs and concerns. They will need sufficient knowledge to make them competent to practise on the basis that they can look up detail later. Candidates will not be expected to know or address detail that a Day One Solicitor would look up, unless they have been provided with that detail as part of the assessment materials. See also the legal materials section below. Sample questions and indicative answers will be published on the SQE website.
The assessment criteria for SQE2 refer to correct and comprehensive application of law. The following is a non-exhaustive list of what this may include:
The assessment criteria for application of law refer to legally correct and legally comprehensive. How each of these is interpreted will depend on an academic judgment about each assessment informed by the Statement of Solicitor Competence (Annex 3) and the Functioning Legal Knowledge for SQE2 (Annex 1). For instance, in an assessment where the candidate has to identify the legal issues, credit for this might be given under legally comprehensive. Where the legal issues are made explicit in the question, credit under legally comprehensive might be awarded for giving a comprehensive analysis of those issues, not just for identifying them.
The assessment criteria for the written skills refer to clear, precise, concise and acceptable language. This may include:
In order to pass SQE2 candidates must obtain the overall pass mark for SQE2. For the avoidance of doubt please note that there is not a separate pass mark for SQE2 oral and SQE2 written. There is one pass mark for SQE2 as a whole. For details of how the pass mark is set see the Marking and Moderation Policy (this will be made available in the future).
For all stations except legal research, candidates will be provided, as part of their assessment materials, with materials that a Day One Solicitor would look up.
Candidates will need sufficient knowledge to make them competent to practise on the basis that they can look up detail later. Candidates will not be expected to know or address detail that a Day One Solicitor would look up, unless they have been provided with that detail as part of their assessment materials. However, legal materials will only be provided where it is considered that a Day One Solicitor would need to refer to those materials. Sample questions and indicative answers will be published on the SQE website. For detail on the legal research assessment see Legal research.
Any other materials, such as books and notes, cannot be brought into or used during the assessments.
Candidates will be given an email from a partner or a secretary stating who the client is and providing an indication of what the client has come to discuss. The email may, but will not necessarily, be accompanied by documents. The email may also indicate specific legal issues which candidates should have particular regard to in the interview and the subsequent attendance note/case analysis.
Candidates will have 10 minutes to consider the email and/or documents.
They will then have 25 minutes to conduct the interview with the client. The client may be, but will not necessarily be, somebody in vulnerable circumstances.
An assessor who will play the role of the client will assess the candidate only on skills (not on application of law).
In the interview candidates should aim to win the client's trust and confidence. They should try to obtain all the relevant information and as full an understanding as possible of the client's concerns. Candidates do not need to provide detailed advice at this stage. They can conduct the interview on the basis that they will be advising the client in detail at a later date. However, candidates do need to give enough preliminary advice and to address enough of the client's concerns to establish the client's trust and confidence.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to conduct an interview with a client.
Candidates’ performance in the interview will be assessed against the following criteria:
Candidates will have 25 minutes to write, by hand, an attendance note/legal analysis of the interview they have just completed.
All relevant information obtained during the interview should be recorded in the attendance note/legal analysis. Candidates should provide an analysis of any legal issues that arise in the matter and record their initial advice for the client. The attendance note/legal analysis should also identify the next steps to be taken by the solicitor and, where applicable, the client, as well as any ethical issues that arise and how they should be dealt with. This may (but will not necessarily) include options and strategies for negotiation. If the email from the partner or secretary has asked the candidate to deal with any specific issues or questions, then advice on these issues should also be included.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to produce an attendance note recording a client interview and initial legal analysis.
Application of law
For further information on marking see Marking SQE2.
Annex 3 sets out the Statement of Solicitor Competence (SoSC).
Annex 4 maps the competences assessed in the SQE2 assessments against the SoSC.
Candidates are given a case study on which they will conduct a piece of courtroom advocacy. An email asks the candidate to conduct the advocacy and tells them in which court they are appearing. Where relevant, candidates are also given a file of documents. Candidates may be asked questions during the advocacy. They have 45 minutes to prepare.
Candidates will then have 15 minutes to make their submission to a judge who is present in the room. The judge will be played by a solicitor of England and Wales who will assess the candidate both on skills and application of law.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to conduct a piece of advocacy before a judge.
Candidates will be assessed against the following criteria:
Annex 3 sets out the SoSC.
This is a computer-based assessment. Candidates will be given a case study with documents on which they will be asked to produce a written report to a partner giving a legal analysis of the case and providing client-focused advice. This may, but will not necessarily, include options and strategies for negotiation.
Candidates will have 60 minutes to complete this task.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to produce a written report to a partner giving a legal analysis of the case and client-focused advice.
Annex 4 maps the competences assessed in the SQE2 assessments against the SoSC.
This is a computer-based assessment. Candidates will be required to investigate a problem for a client. They will be given an email from a partner asking the candidate to research an issue or issues, so that the partner can report back to the client. Candidates will have to produce a written note explaining to the partner their legal reasoning and the key sources they rely on, as well as the advice the partner should give the client. They will not need to produce a research trail.
Please note that while the subject matter of the research will be within the broad heading of the practice area in which the assessment is set, it may be outside the scope of the Functioning Legal Knowledge, thus requiring research.
Candidates will be provided with sources for the legal research exercises. These may include both primary and secondary sources. Some of the sources provided may not be relevant.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to conduct legal research from a variety of resources provided and produce a written report.
This is a computer-based assessment. Candidates will be asked to write a letter or an email as the solicitor acting in a matter, which clearly and correctly applies the law to the client’s concerns and is appropriate for the recipient. This may, but will not necessarily, be in the context of a negotiation. Candidates will be given an email from a partner explaining what is required. The email may or may not be accompanied by electronic documents. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the possible recipients: a client, a third party, the other side to litigation or to a client transaction, or a partner within their organisation.
Candidates will have 30 minutes to complete this task.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to produce a letter or an email as the solicitor acting in a matter.
This is a computer-based assessment. Candidates will be asked to draft a legal document or parts of a legal document. This may take the form of drafting from a precedent or amending a document already drafted but it may also involve drafting without either of these.
Candidates will have 45 minutes to complete this task.
Candidates can demonstrate they are able to draft a legal document or parts of a legal document for a client.
The core principles of criminal liability relating to the specified criminal offences listed below:
Specified criminal offences:
Definition of the offence:
Rights of a suspect being detained by the police for questioning:
Advising a client, including vulnerable clients, whether to answer police questions:
Procedure for interviewing a suspect under PACE 1984:
First hearings before the magistrates’ court:
Plea before Venue:
Allocation of business between magistrates' court and Crown Court:
Case management and pre-trial hearings:
Principles and procedures to admit and exclude evidence:
Trial procedure in magistrates’ court and Crown Court:
Youth court procedure:
Different options for dispute resolution:
Resolving a dispute through a civil claim:
Where to start proceedings:
Issuing and serving proceedings:
Responding to a claim:
Statements of case:
Disclosure and inspection:
Enforcement of money judgments:
Causation and remoteness
Principles of vicarious liability
Investigation of a registered and unregistered freehold title:
Pre-contract searches and enquiries:
Law Society Conveyancing Protocol
Acting for a lender:
Preparation for and exchange of contracts:
Completion and post-completion:
Remedies for delayed completion:
Structure and content of a lease:
Procedural steps for the grant of a lease or underlease:
Procedural steps for the assignment of a lease:
Licence to assign and licence to underlet:
Remedies for breach of a leasehold covenant:
Termination of a lease:
Security of tenure under a business lease:
Statutory definition of “Development”
Matters that do not constitute “Development”
Matters that do not require express planning permission
Building regulation control
Enforcement: time limits and the range of local planning authority’s enforcement powers.
Stamp Duty Land Tax and Land Transaction Tax:
Value Added Tax:
Capital Gains Tax:
Nature of Land:
Title to Land:
Co-ownership and Trusts:
Validity of wills and codicils:
Alterations and amendments to wills:
Revocation of wills:
The interpretation of wills:
The intestacy rules:
Property passing outside the estate:
Grants of representation:
Administration of estates:
Claims against estates under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975:
Income and Capital Gains Tax in respect of the period of the administration of an estate:
Creation and requirements of express trusts:
The distinction between charitable trusts and non-charitable purpose trusts
Trusts of the family home:
Liability of strangers to the trust:
The fiduciary relationship and its obligations:
The nature of equitable remedies and the availability of tracing in equity.
(Excluding the Listing, Prospectus, Disclosure Guidance and Transparency Rules and any other FCA, London Stock Exchange, market rules or codes)
Business and organisational characteristics (sole trader/partnership/LLP/private and unlisted public companies).
Legal personality and limited liability.
Procedures and documentation required to incorporate a company/form a partnership/LLP and other steps required under companies and partnerships legislation to enable the entity to commence operating:
Corporate governance and compliance:
Partnership decision-making and authority of partners:
Insolvency (corporate and personal):
Candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to act honestly and with integrity, and in accordance with the SRA Standards and Regulations as follows:
Together referred to as the Code of Conduct.
See SoSC (A1) at Annex 3.
Level 3 of the Threshold Standard for the Statement of Solicitor Competence (SoSC) describes the level at which the SoSC competencies should be performed upon qualification as a solicitor.
This statement takes a broad definition of competence as being "the ability to perform the roles and tasks required by one's job to the expected standard" (Eraut and du Boulay, 2001).
The advantage of this definition is that it recognises that requirements and expectations change depending on job role and context. It also recognises that competence develops, and that an individual may work 'competently' at many different levels, either at different stages of their career, or indeed from one day to the next depending on the nature of their work.
The competence statement should be read holistically. By way of example, the requirement in A1e to respect diversity and act fairly and inclusively pervades all areas of work and underpins all of the competences in the statement.
Solicitors should be able to:
A1. Act honestly and with integrity, in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements and the SRA Standards and Regulations, including:
A2. Maintain the level of competence and legal knowledge needed to practise effectively, taking into account changes in their role and/or practice context and developments in the law, including:
A3. Work within the limits of their competence and the supervision which they need, including:
A4. Draw on a sufficient detailed knowledge and understanding of their field(s) of work and role in order to practise effectively, including:
A5. Apply understanding, critical thinking and analysis to solve problems, including:
B1. Obtain relevant facts, including:
B2. Undertake legal research, including:
B3. Develop and advise on relevant options, strategies and solutions, including:
B4. Draft documents which are legally effective and accurately reflect the client's instructions including:
B5. Undertake effective spoken and written advocacy, including:
B6. Negotiate solutions to clients' issues, including:
B7. Plan, manage and progress legal cases and transactions, including:
C1. Communicate clearly and effectively, orally and in writing, including:
C2. Establish and maintain effective and professional relations with clients, including:
C3. Establish and maintain effective and professional relations with other people, including:
D1. Initiate, plan, prioritise and manage work activities and projects to make sure that they are completed efficiently, on time and to an appropriate standard, both in relation to their own work and work that they lead or supervise, including:
D2. Keep, use and maintain accurate, complete and clear records, including:
D3. Apply good business practice, including:
Sample questions give you an idea of the style of questions which may be used to test your ability to apply fundamental legal principles and rules.
Learn more: SQE2 sample questions
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