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Last updated: April 2021
Scope and purpose
Kaplan SQE Limited (Kaplan SQE) has been appointed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) as the sole provider of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (“the Assessment”) and the End Point Assessment Organisation (“EPAO”) for Solicitor Apprentices. Kaplan SQE handles complaints in accordance with this Policy as required by the SRA.
This Policy sets out the procedures to be followed in cases where a candidate wishes to submit a claim for mitigating circumstances in either component of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE): SQE1 or SQE2.
We are committed to ensuring that this Policy is fair and transparent and is operated in a manner which:
Information provided by candidates under these procedures will be treated confidentially and only shared with those persons necessary to consider their claim.
We consider that candidates will normally be able to meet the time limits in communicating with us. Where there are circumstances which mean a candidate cannot reasonably meet such time limits they must communicate this to us at the earliest opportunity.
Candidates with a disability
Where a candidate indicates that they have a disability, information will be made available to them in appropriate formats and reasonable adjustments will be made to proceedings to accommodate their needs.
Review of this Policy
This Policy will be monitored by Kaplan SQE and any necessary amendments will be made and implemented at the earliest opportunity. As a minimum, Kaplan SQE will review this and all associated policies on an annual basis as part of its ongoing quality assurance procedures.
Claims for mitigating circumstances
For the purpose of this Policy, “Mitigating Circumstances” has the following meaning:
which materially and adversely affects a candidate's marks or performance in the assessment.
Disagreement with the academic judgement of the assessors cannot amount to mitigating circumstances. Academic judgement means the professional and scholarly knowledge and expertise which the assessors have drawn on to reach a decision about a candidate’s performance in an assessment.
A candidate who considers that their performance is likely to be affected by mitigating circumstances as described in 2.1(c) which arise before the assessment is normally expected to withdraw from the assessment and sit it at a later date. A mitigating circumstances claim made in respect of circumstances existing before the assessment will not usually be accepted or considered.
Where mitigating circumstances arise during an assessment the affected candidate must report the mitigating circumstances to an invigilator as soon as possible and at the latest before leaving the venue.
Candidates reporting mitigating circumstances during an assessment will not normally be allowed any additional time to complete an assessment unless an error of process on the part of Kaplan SQE or the test centre has denied them the full time to complete the assessments and it is practicable to allow additional time.
Where mitigating circumstances arise that affect a large number of candidates at a venue, a written report will be provided by Kaplan SQE to the Assessment Board. This does not preclude candidates putting in their own claims for mitigating circumstances in respect of the incident.
Ongoing medical conditions and other disabilities that affect candidates do not fall within mitigating circumstances as defined by this Policy. Arrangements for meeting the needs of candidates who have ongoing conditions and/or a disability are dealt with according to the SQE Reasonable Adjustments Policy. We do recognise however, that there may be circumstances when a candidate may experience specific difficulties related to their condition during an assessment, which may need to be considered under this Policy (for example a flare-up). Where this occurs, the Assessment Board will be entitled to also consider the reasonable adjustments that were put in place during the assessment.
Circumstances which would not usually meet the definition of mitigating circumstances
The following are examples of the circumstances which would not usually meet the definition of mitigating circumstances. This list is not exhaustive.
Making a claim
If a candidate wishes to proceed with a claim for mitigating circumstances, they must submit a request using the Mitigating Circumstances Form.
All claims must be made in writing to the Kaplan SQE team within five working days of the end of the assessment window in question using the Mitigating Circumstances Form and should be accompanied, wherever possible, by independent supporting written evidence. A medical certificate should be provided as evidence of illness including relevant dates and the nature, onset and duration of the condition. Where evidence cannot be provided within the five working days, the Mitigating Circumstances Form should be submitted within the time limit with evidence to follow.
We will acknowledge receipt of the Mitigating Circumstances Form within five working days of receiving it.
Kaplan SQE reserves the right to verify the authenticity of evidence submitted.
Consideration of claim
Claims will be considered by the Assessment Board who will determine (a) whether the claim amounts to mitigating circumstances; and (b) whether the evidence presented substantiates the claim. Where necessary, the Assessment Board may call for further evidence and/or undertake an investigation. All evidence submitted must be written in English, or Welsh at the candidate’s choice where the candidate sat the assessment in Welsh. Where the original evidence is not written in English or Welsh, the candidate must submit a verified translation at the candidate’s expense.
Marking of assessments will not be considered as completed until the Assessment Board has concluded. Candidates who make a claim for mitigating circumstances on ground 2.1(c), namely illness or other personal circumstances beyond their reasonable control, should note that if the Assessment Board accepts the claim, the assessment attempt will be discounted. If the Assessment Board does not accept the claim, marking will be completed and the attempt will count.
Candidates whose claims for mitigating circumstances are accepted by the Assessment Board will ordinarily be given the opportunity to resit the assessment which was affected by the mitigating circumstances, and have their original attempt discounted and/or all or part of their fees for a resit waived.
A candidate who disagrees with the decision of the Assessment Board may appeal against the decision provided that they are able to establish a ground for the appeal as set out in the SQE Appeals Policy.
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