SQE1 assessment specification Updated 28 April 2023

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is your gateway to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales. This comprehensive assessment is divided into two parts - SQE1 and SQE2 - testing your legal knowledge and practical skills.

Updated 28 April 2023

SQE1 assessment specification

Summary of SQE1 Evaluations

The two SQE1 Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) evaluations include the following subjects:

  • Business Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contract, Tort, Legal System of England and Wales, Constitutional and Administrative Law, and EU Law and Legal Services fall under FLK 1.
  • FLK 2 encompasses Property Practice, Wills and Estate Administration, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, and Criminal Law and Practice.

Each FLK evaluation may contain questions incorporating various combinations of these subjects as they could be found in a practical setting.
Ethics and Professional Conduct will be comprehensively evaluated throughout these two evaluations.
Principles of taxation will be specifically evaluated within the contexts of:

  • Business Law and Practice
  • Property Law and Practice
  • Wills and Estate Administration

Each FLK evaluation is divided into two sections that detail the subject areas covered. The objectives of each assessment are outlined, followed by a discussion of the legal knowledge and practice expected from candidates in order to answer the questions effectively.

Functioning Legal Knowledge

Candidates are expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the English and Welsh law, known as functioning legal knowledge. This suggests that candidates should be able to apply their legal knowledge to demonstrate the competencies expected of a newly certified solicitor in England and Wales.

The basic legal principles and rules that a candidate will need to utilize are detailed by subject area. A candidate should be capable of employing these basic legal principles and rules efficiently and appropriately, similar to a competent newly certified solicitor, to resolve realistic, client-based, and ethical issues. Each question will have five potential answers, and candidates should select only one answer per question.

The SQE1 FLK evaluations are conducted without the use of reference materials. The questions are designed to examine the application of basic legal principles expected of a newly qualified solicitor in England and Wales, without the use of books or notes. They are not intended to assess intricate details which a newly certified solicitor would typically refer to reference materials for.

The law upon which candidates will be evaluated in the SQE will be based on the status of the law four months prior to the first assessment date in an assessment window. Candidates will be assessed based on the law as it stands at that time, not on subsequent legal developments.

The Statement of Solicitor Competence (SoSC) illustrates the connection between the legal principles and rules that candidates must comprehend and apply. In the FLK evaluations, candidates will be evaluated at level 3 of the Threshold Standard, which is equivalent to the competency level of a newly qualified solicitor, as outlined in Annex 6.

Use of Legal Principles and Rules

The subsequent examples of the range of question styles utilized to evaluate the FLK are only representative and not comprehensive:

  • A question might necessitate a candidate to identify and apply a fundamental legal principle or rule.
  • A question might present a relevant legal principle or rule and require the candidate to determine its proper application and/or the result of such application.
  • A candidate might need to illustrate their understanding of whether a client can legally accomplish a desired outcome, and provide suitable explanatory advice.
  • In cases where a client's legal outcome is already established in the question, a candidate might need to identify the reason why the application of a legal principle or rule leads to that particular legal result and/or identify the relevant legal principle or rule.
  • A question might require a candidate to perform a calculation by applying rules, rates, percentages, and thresholds to identify the correct figure. In tax-related questions, candidates are expected to recall certain tax thresholds and rates and be aware of specific reliefs and exemptions that have been part of the UK tax system for a long period. Nevertheless, in the UK tax system, various rates, thresholds, exemptions, and reliefs may be adjusted, introduced, or removed by successive Budgets. For such items, the necessary figures for tax calculation will usually be provided.

Published sample questions will offer instances of the style of questions that might be used to assess a candidate's ability to apply the fundamental legal principles and rules outlined in this assessment specification.

The sources and application of law in the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales

Whilst Wales does not form a separate legal jurisdiction (it is part of the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales), the laws that apply in England may be different from the laws that apply in Wales. In Wales, the Welsh language has official status and can be used in proceedings in Wales. These factors have consequences for how the law operates in Wales.

Candidates will be required to show that they can apply their knowledge of the sources of primary and secondary legislation in England and Wales and how that law is applied.

Solicitors of England and Wales are entitled to practise both in England and in Wales. Candidates will be required to apply, at the level of the newly qualified solicitor, their knowledge that, in relation to certain topics, the law is different in the two territories.

Legal References

In legal practice, it is sometimes customary to refer to a legal principle, area of law, rule or procedural step using a case name or statutory provision (for instance, Rylands v Fletcher, CPR Part 36, Section 25 notice). In these situations, candidates are expected to recognize and utilize such case names and statutory provisions. However, candidates are not required to memorize specific case names, or quote statutory or regulatory authorities in other contexts.

Subject Content

The FLK evaluations for SQE1 will incorporate content outlined in this assessment specification. A detailed plan is included in Annex 3.

Ethics and Professional Conduct

Candidates are expected to display their capacity to act honestly and with integrity, and to conform to the SRA Standards and Regulations, which consist of:

  • The purpose, scope and content of the SRA Principles
  • The purpose, scope and content of the Code of Conduct, which consists of:
    • SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs
    • SRA Code of Conduct for Firms in relation to:
      • Managers in authorised firms
      • Compliance Officers

Refer to SoSC (A1) in Annex 1 for more information.

Ethics and professional conduct will be assessed across all subject areas.

FLK assessment 1: Business Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contract, Tort, Legal System, Public Law, Legal Services

Business Law and Practice

Assessment Objectives

Candidates must exhibit their ability to aptly and effectively utilize pertinent core legal principles and rules at the level of a proficient newly qualified solicitor in practice, addressing realistic client-focused and ethical dilemmas in the following areas:

  • Inception of a new business via a company, partnership, LLP, or as a sole proprietor.
  • Regulation of a business and corporate decision making to ensure adherence to statutory and other legal mandates.
  • Understanding the interests, rights, obligations, and powers of stakeholders in a business.
  • Sourcing funds for a business.
  • Business and stakeholder taxation.
  • Closure of a solvent business, corporate insolvency, and personal bankruptcy.
  • Candidates should prove their ability to act with honesty and integrity, in line with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are anticipated to apply knowledge derived from the below-mentioned areas of law and practice.

Questions may incorporate any combination of the subject areas within this FLK assessment 1 which might be encountered in a practical context.

Assessment Objectives

Candidates must demonstrate their ability to properly and effectively use key legal principles and rules at the level of a competent newly qualified solicitor in practice, dealing with realistic client-based and ethical challenges in the following areas:

  • Evaluation of the merits of a claim or defense.
  • Choosing arbitration, mediation, or litigation as an appropriate mechanism to resolve a dispute.
  • Pre-action contemplations and actions.
  • Initiating, responding to, or progressing a claim.
  • Managing a case and any interim applications pertinent to a claim.
  • Determining the necessary evidence and disclosure steps required in initiating, responding to, progressing, or defending a claim.
  • Preparing a case for trial, the trial itself, and any post-trial actions.
  • Procedures and processes related to the costs involved in dispute resolution.
  • Candidates must show their ability to act honestly and with integrity, in accordance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are expected to draw upon and apply knowledge from the areas of law and practice outlined below.

Candidates are expected to draw upon and apply knowledge from the areas of law and practice outlined below.

Assessment Objectives

Candidates must display their ability to aptly and effectively apply crucial legal principles and rules, at the level of a competent newly qualified solicitor in practice, to realistic client-centered and ethical issues in the following areas:

  • Establishment/formation of a contract.
  • Contract contents.
  • Causation and remoteness.
  • Elements that can void a contract.
  • Contract discharge and remedies.
  • Unjust enrichment.
  • Candidates are required to demonstrate their capacity to act honestly and with integrity, and in accordance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are anticipated to apply knowledge derived from the below-mentioned areas of law and practice.

Questions may involve any combination of the subject areas within this FLK assessment 1 which could be encountered in a practical context.

Evaluation Guidelines

Test-takers are expected to adeptly apply key legal principles and regulations in a manner that would be expected of a proficient recently certified attorney in a real-world setting. This should encompass real-life client-based and ethical issues and circumstances in these fields:

  • Negligence
  • Possible solutions and defenses
  • Liability of premises' owners
  • Liability for defective products
  • Nuisance and the doctrine in Rylands v Fletcher

Participants should prove their capacity to act truthfully, with integrity, and following the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Applicants should incorporate and utilize information from the identified areas of law and practice. Any combination of the subjects within this first FLK test, as encountered in practice, may be used to formulate questions.

Evaluation Guidelines

Candidates should be able to apply essential legal principles and rules effectively and aptly, to the standard of a proficient newly licensed attorney, to real-life client-related and ethical dilemmas and scenarios in the following areas:

  • Candidates should be able to apply essential legal principles and rules effectively and aptly, to the standard of a proficient newly licensed attorney, to real-life client-related and ethical dilemmas and scenarios in the following areas:
  • Constitutional, Administrative law and EU law
  • Legal services

Candidates should exhibit their ability to act with honesty, integrity, and in adherence to the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates should be prepared to utilize knowledge from the listed areas of law and practice. Questions may include any combination of the topics within this first FLK assessment that might come up in practice.

Business Structures, Rules, and Procedures

(This excludes the Listing, Prospectus, Disclosure Guidance, Transparency Rules, and any other FCA, London Stock Exchange, market rules, or codes)

Business and organizational structures should be understood, including sole traders, partnerships, LLPs, private and unlisted public companies.

Grasp the concepts of legal personality and limited liability.

Understand the processes and documentation needed to form a company, partnership, or LLP, and other steps mandated under companies and partnerships legislation to enable the entity to start operations:

  • Constitutional documents
  • Companies House filing requirements

For Finance, understand:

  • Various funding options: debt and equity
  • Different types of security
  • Distribution of profits and gains
  • Requirements for financial records, information, and accountingd

For Corporate governance and compliance:

  • Rights, duties, and powers of directors and shareholders of companies
  • Company decision-making and meetings: procedural, disclosure, and approval requirements
  • Documentary, record-keeping, statutory filing, and disclosure requirements
  • Appointment and removal of directors
  • Protection of minority shareholders

For Partnership decision-making and authority of partners

  • Understand procedures and authority under the Partnership Act 1890
  • Common provisions in partnership agreements

In Insolvency (both corporate and personal):

  • Options and procedures: CVA/IVA, bankruptcy, administration, fixed asset receivership, voluntary and compulsory liquidation
  • Recovery of assets for creditors – preferences, transactions at an undervalue, fraudulent and wrongful trading, setting aside a floating charge
  • Order of priority for distribution to creditors

For Taxation - business:

Income Tax:

  • Chargeable individuals/entities (employees, sole traders, partners, shareholders, lenders, and debenture holders)
  • Basis of charge (types of income/main reliefs and exemptions)
  • The charge to tax: calculation of income tax in each of England and Wales and collection
  • The scope of anti-avoidance provisions

Capital Gains Tax:

  • Chargeable individuals/entities (sole traders, partners, and shareholders)
  • Basis of charge (calculation of gains/allowable deductions/main reliefs and exemptions)
  • The charge to tax: calculation and collection
  • The scope of anti-avoidance provisions

Corporation Tax:

  • Basis of charge
  • Calculation, payment, and collection of tax
  • Tax treatment of company distributions or deemed distributions to shareholders
  • Outline of anti-avoidance legislation

Value Added Tax:

  • Fundamental principles relating to scope, supply, input, and output tax
  • Registration requirements and issue of VAT invoices
  • Returns/payment of VAT and record keeping

Inheritance Tax:

  • Business property relief

Fundamentals, Procedures, and Processes in Dispute Resolution

Various methods for dispute resolution:

Identify the unique features of arbitration, mediation, and litigation that make them suitable for settling disputes.

Settling a dispute through a civil claim involves:

  • Initial considerations: time restrictions, pre-action protocols:
  • parties and legal grounds
  • Determining limitation periods for contract and tort claims
  • Practice Direction – Pre-action conduct and its principles and purposes
  • Pre-action protocols for specific claims and consequences of non-compliance
  • Applicable law: mechanisms for determining the laws of which country apply to a contract or tort claim filed in the courts of England and Wales
  • Jurisdiction: mechanisms to establish jurisdiction over an international contract or tort claim
  • Practice Direction – preliminary considerations for using the Welsh language in civil proceedings

Where to start proceedings:

  • Distribution of business between the High Court and the county court
  • Jurisdiction of specialized courts

Initiating and serving proceedings:

  • Filing a claim form
  • Adding, removing or substituting parties
  • Serving a claim form within the jurisdiction
  • Procedure for serving a claim form outside the jurisdiction (with or without court permission) and mechanisms for valid service in another jurisdiction
  • Deemed dates of service and time limits for serving proceedings
  • Service by an alternate method

Responding to a claim:

  • Admission of the claim
  • Acknowledging service and filing a defense and/or counterclaim
  • Disputing the court’s jurisdiction
  • Entering and setting aside default judgment
  • Discontinuation and settlement
  • Time limits for responding to a claim

Statements of case:

  • Purpose, structure, and content of a claim form, particulars of a claim, or defense relating to a contract or tort claim
  • Purpose, structure, and content of a reply, Part 20 claim, or defense to Part 20 claim
  • Requests for additional information about statements of case
  • Amendments

Interim applications:

  • Procedure for making an application
  • Purpose, procedure, and required evidence for specific applications:
    • summary judgment
    • interim payments
    • interim injunctions

Managing Legal Cases:

  • the paramount principle
  • determination of case track
  • guidelines for case management for cases on the fast or multi-tracks
  • consequences and remedies for not complying with orders
  • expenses and case management meetings.

Evidence:

  • applicability, indirect evidence, and permissibility
  • the responsibility and level of evidence required
  • specialist evidence -
    • opinion-based evidence
    • responsibilities of specialists
    • collective singular experts
    • interactions among experts
  • evidence from witnesses -
    • statements from witnesses
    • sworn written statements.

Disclosure and Review:

  • routine disclosure
  • mandates for disclosure
  • distinct disclosure
  • pre-action and third-party disclosure
  • digital disclosure
  • privileged and off-the-record communications
  • relinquishment of privilege.

Trial:

  • calling witnesses
  • pre-trial activities -
    • use of pre-trial checklists (listing questionnaires) and hearings
    • use of trial document packages.
  • trial process including communication styles, courtroom manners and the difference between direct and indirect questioning
  • the meaning and impact of a ruling.

Expenses:

  • cost planning and budgeting
  • inter-party cost orders (preliminary and final)
  • costs involving non-parties
  • Part 36 and other proposals
  • guarantee for costs
  • predetermined and evaluated costs.

Appeals:

  • authorization
  • destination of appeals
  • justifications for appeals.

Enforcement of Monetary Judgments:

  • verbal examination
  • techniques of enforcement
  • steps and mechanisms for successful enforcement in a different jurisdiction.

Basic principles of contract law

Creation:

  • proposal and agreement
  • exchange of values
  • intent to establish legal obligations
  • definiteness
  • ability to contract.

Parties Involved:

  • confidentiality of contract
  • rights of individuals not party to the contract.

Contract Clauses:

  • explicit terms
  • inclusion of terms
  • terms implied by law and statute
  • disclaimer clauses
  • interpretation of contract conditions (conditions, warranties and uncertain terms)
  • alteration.

Invalidating Factors:

  • misrepresentation
  • error
  • unfair contract stipulations
  • duress and undue sway
  • illegality.

Termination:

  • end or other specific event
  • violation
  • interruption
  • fundamental concepts of restitution and unjust enrichment in the context of contract termination.

Remedies:

  • compensation
  • predetermined sums and penalties
  • specific implementation
  • injunctions
  • obligation to minimize damage
  • indemnifications
  • guarantees.

Causation and Remoteness

Foundational Principles of Tort Law

Negligence:

  • duty of care (standard (general and professional)) and violation
  • cause (single and multiple)
  • distance and loss
  • principles of remedies for personal injury and death claims
  • claims for pure economic loss arising from either a negligent act or false statement
  • claims for psychiatric harm
  • employers’ direct liability (operation and effect of the common law principles).

Defenses:

  • consent
  • contributory negligence
  • illegality
  • necessity.

Principles of Vicarious Liability

Occupiers’ Liability:

  • legal prerequisites for a claim under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 (in relation to visitors) and the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 (in relation to non-visitors)
  • defenses
  • exclusion of liability.

Product Liability:

  • principles in negligence
  • principles of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Nuisance:

  • public and private annoyance
  • the rule in Rylands v Fletcher
  • remedies (damages and injunctions) and defences.

The Legal System of England and Wales and Sources of Law

The Courts:

  • the judiciary
  • court hierarchy, the appeal system and jurisdiction
  • rights of representation.

Development of Case Law: Precedent Doctrine

Primary Legislation:

  • Structure of an Act of Parliament
  • Structure of an Act of Senedd Cymru

Statutory Interpretation:

  • Literal rule
  • Golden rule
  • Mischief rule
  • Purposive approach
  • Presumptions
  • Aids to statutory interpretation and construction
  • Interpretation of legislation made by Senedd Cymru

Application of Legislation by Senedd Cymru and Westminster to England and Wales.

Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law

Core Institutions of the State and their Interrelationships:

  • Parliament and Parliamentary Sovereignty
  • Central Government and Accountability
  • Status of Devolved Institutions and their Relationship with Westminster
  • The Monarch and the Crown
  • Role of Constitutional Conventions
  • Prerogative Power: Relationship with Legislation and Constitutional Conventions
  • Parliamentary Privilege

Legitimacy, Separation of Powers, and the Rule of Law:

  • Powers and Procedures for Enactment, Implementation, and Repeal of Primary and Secondary Legislation by Westminster, Senedd Cymru, and Welsh Ministers
  • Public Order Law
    • Processions
    • Assemblies
    • Breach of the Peace
  • Judicial Review
    • Nature, Process, and Limits of Judicial Review
    • Supervisory Nature
    • Remedies
    • Decisions Subject to Challenge
    • Standing
    • Time Limits
    • Grounds:
      • Illegality
      • Irrationality
      • Procedural Impropriety
      • Legitimate Expectation

Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights:

  • Sections 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998
  • Schedule 1 of the HRA 1998, the "Convention Rights"

Place of EU Law in the UK Constitution:

  • Sources of Retained EU Law
  • Categories/Status/Interpretation of Retained EU Law
  • Modification/Withdrawal of Retained EU Law
  • Parliamentary Sovereignty and Retained EU Law

Legal Services

Regulatory Role of the SRA:

  • Principles and Risk-Based Regulation
    • Reserved Legal Activities
    • Professional Indemnity Insurance
    • Other Regulated Providers of Legal Services
  • Overriding Legal Obligations
    • The Equality Act 2010
    • Money Laundering
      • Purpose and Scope of Anti-Money Laundering Legislation, including the International Context
      • Circumstances Encountered in Practice that Require Reporting Suspicion of Money Laundering, including Reporting Recipients, Timing, and Procedures
      • Direct and Indirect Involvement Offenses and Defenses under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
      • Due Diligence Requirements
    • Financial Services
      • Financial Services Regulatory Framework, including Authorization and its Application to Solicitors' Firms
      • Recognition of Relevant Financial Services Issues, including Specified Investments, Specified Activities, and Relevant Exemptions
      • Application of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and Related Secondary Legislation to Solicitors' Work
  • Funding Options for Legal Services:

    • Private Retainer
    • Conditional Fee Arrangements
    • Damages Based Agreements
    • Fixed Fees
    • Eligibility for Criminal and Civil Legal Aid
    • Third-Party Funding
    • Legal Expenses Insurance

FLK Assessment 2: Property Practice, Wills and the Administration of Estates, Solicitors Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, Criminal

Evaluation Goals

It is expected that candidates will apply relevant fundamental legal principles and regulations, in a suitable and effective manner, mirroring the competency of a newly practicing solicitor, to real-world client-related and ethical dilemmas in the following domains:

  1. Principal components of a transaction involving residential or commercial property, be it freehold or leasehold.
  2. Investigating a registered or unregistered title, whether freehold or leasehold.
  3. Pre-contract investigations and queries conducted while purchasing a freehold or leasehold property.
  4. Steps involved in advancing a freehold or leasehold property transaction to contract exchange.
  5. Actions required prior to completing a transaction involving a freehold or leasehold property.
  6. Tasks necessary for finalizing and post-finalizing a freehold or leasehold property transaction in either England or Wales, including measures for delayed finalization.
  7. Granting and transferring a commercial lease or sublease.
  8. Principal lease terms in a commercial lease and the associated legal implications of breaching them.
  9. Lease security under the Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
  10. Tax implications of property transactions, including Stamp Duty Land Tax for English land, Land Transaction Tax for Welsh land, Value Added Tax, and Capital Gains Tax.

Candidates are required to display their commitment to honesty and integrity, adhering to the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are anticipated to leverage and apply their knowledge from the law and practice areas mentioned below.

The questions may incorporate any combination of topics within this FLK assessment 2 that could arise in professional practice.

Objectives for Evaluation

It is expected that candidates apply key legal principles and rules in a fitting and effective way, similar to a proficient newly qualified solicitor, to real-world client scenarios and ethical dilemmas in the following fields:

  1. Assessing the legitimacy of a will and interpretation of its provisions. Distribution of estates which may be fully, partially or non-compliant with a will.
  2. The legal principles and practices associated with applying for a grant of representation.
  3. The understanding and application of Inheritance Tax in the context of gifts given during one's lifetime and transfers made upon death.
  4. Planning, managing, and progressing the administration of an estate, inclusive of claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  5. The laws and procedures pertaining to personal representatives and trustees in estate administration and resulting trusts. The rights, powers, and remedies available to beneficiaries of wills and consequent trusts.

Candidates are required to prove their commitment to honesty, integrity, and compliance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are not required to show understanding of foreign law, foreign assets, or foreign taxes.

Candidates should use and apply their knowledge from the law and practice areas mentioned below.

The questions may involve any combination of the topics within this FLK assessment 2 that could be encountered in a professional setting.

Evaluation Goals

It is expected that candidates proficiently apply key principles of double entry bookkeeping and the SRA Accounts Rules in a suitable and effective manner, comparable to a newly practicing solicitor, to real-world client-related and ethical challenges in the following domains:

  1. Transactions that include client funds and money owned by the authorized entity.
  2. Managing ledgers and bank accounts; the process of paying interest.
  3. Violations of the SRA Accounts Rules.
  4. Necessary accounting entries; bills; procurement and delivery of accountants' reports; responsibilities related to record maintenance.

Candidates are required to show their commitment to honesty, integrity, and compliance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are anticipated to utilize and apply their knowledge from the law and practice areas mentioned below.

The questions may incorporate any combination of topics within this FLK assessment 2 that might be encountered in professional practice.

Evaluation Goals

It is expected that candidates apply relevant fundamental legal principles and regulations in a fitting and effective manner, comparable to a newly practicing solicitor, to real-world client scenarios and ethical dilemmas in the following fields:

  1. Registered and unregistered land.
  2. Freehold and leasehold properties, and legal and equitable interests in land.
  3. Issues concerning landlord and tenant.
  4. Co-ownership matters.

Candidates are required to display their commitment to honesty, integrity, and compliance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates should leverage and apply their knowledge from the law and practice areas mentioned below.

The questions may incorporate any combination of topics within this FLK assessment 2 that could arise in a professional setting.

Objectives for Evaluation

It is expected that candidates will apply key legal principles and rules in a suitable and effective way, comparable to a newly practicing solicitor, to real-world client scenarios and ethical dilemmas in the following fields:

  1. Express and implied trusts.
  2. The fiduciary relationship.
  3. Trustees' responsibilities, powers, and accountability.
  4. Equitable solutions.

Candidates are required to show their commitment to honesty, integrity, and compliance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are not required to show understanding of foreign assets, foreign law, or foreign taxes.

Candidates should use and apply their knowledge from the law and practice areas mentioned below.

The questions may involve any combination of the topics within this FLK assessment 2 that could be encountered in a professional setting.

Evaluation Goals

Within the context of designated criminal offenses, candidates are expected to apply fundamental legal principles and rules in a fitting and effective way, mirroring the proficiency of a newly practicing solicitor, to real-world client scenarios and ethical dilemmas in the following fields:

  1. Fundamental concepts of criminal liability, including actus reus and mens rea, specific and general defenses, and participation.
  2. The laws, procedures, and processes involved in advising a client at a police station.
  3. The laws, procedures, and processes involved in pre-trial considerations.
  4. The laws, procedures, and processes necessary to achieve the client's objectives.
  5. The laws, procedures, and processes involved in trials in the magistrates' court and Crown Court, including sentencing and appeals.

Candidates are required to display their commitment to honesty, integrity, and compliance with the SoSC, the SRA Principles, and the Code of Conduct.

Candidates are anticipated to leverage and apply their knowledge from the law and practice areas mentioned below.

The questions may incorporate any combination of topics within this FLK assessment 2 that could arise in a professional setting.

Evaluation Goals

Essential Knowledge Areas in Freehold Property Law and Practice

Reviewing registered and unregistered freehold titles:

  • Crucial elements and structure of freehold property transactions.
  • Procedure for reviewing Land Registry official copy entries.
  • Procedure for examining an epitome of title and establishing ownership.
  • Potential issues that may surface from a title investigation and subsequent actions required.
  • Objectives and procedure of reporting to the client.

Pre-contract searches and enquiries:

  • Variety and objectives of conducting searches and posing enquiries.
  • Identification of the individuals conducting the searches and posing enquiries.
  • Outcomes of searches and enquiries.

Law Society Conveyancing Protocol

Finance:

  • Available funding sources for a property transaction.
  • Varieties of mortgages.

Representing a lender:

  • Requirements set by the lender.
  • Objective of a certificate of title.

Preparation and exchange of contracts:

  • Main conditions contained in the:
    • Standard Conditions of Sale.
    • Standard Commercial Property Conditions.
  • Purpose of and matters covered by special conditions.
  • Methods of holding a deposit:
    • Stakeholder.
    • Agent.
  • Insurance and risk factors.
  • Basics of VAT in a contract.
  • Timing for issuing certificate of title to a lender.
  • Practice, method, and authority for contract exchange.
  • Implications of an exchange.

Pre-completion:

  • Format of transfer deed and formalities for execution.
  • Pre-completion searches.
  • Steps before completion.

Completion and post-completion:

  • Methods and implications of completion.
  • Steps after completion.

Remedies for delayed completion:

  • Common law damages.
  • Contractual compensation.
  • Notice to complete.
  • Rescission.

Essential Knowledge Areas in Leasehold Property Law and Practice

Structure and content of a lease:

  • Repair.
  • Insurance.
  • Alterations.
  • User and planning.
  • Rent and rent review.
  • Alienation.
  • Options for the term of a lease.
  • Code for Leasing Business Premises.

Procedural steps for the grant of a lease or underlease:

  • Drafting the lease.
  • Purpose of an agreement for lease.
  • Deduction and investigation of title.
  • Pre-contract enquiries and searches.
  • Pre-completion formalities.
  • Completion and post-completion steps.

Procedural steps for the assignment of a lease:

  • Deduction and investigation of title.
  • Pre-contract enquiries and searches.
  • Landlord’s consent.
  • Deed of assignment and covenants for title.
  • Pre-completion formalities.
  • Authorised guarantee agreement.
  • Completion and post-completion steps.

Licence to assign and licence to underlet:

  • Purpose of and who prepares the draft.
  • Privity of contract and how the licence deals with this.
  • Key provisions in the licence.

Leasehold covenants:

  • Liability on covenants in leases –
    • Leases granted before 1 January 1996.
    • Leases granted on or after 1 January 1996.

Remedies for breach of a leasehold covenant:

  • Action in debt.
  • Forfeiture.
  • Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery.
  • Pursuing guarantors and/or rent deposit.
  • Specific performance.
  • Damages.
  • Self-help/Jervis v Harris clause.

Termination of a lease:

  • Effluxion of time.
  • Surrender.
  • Merger.

Security of tenure under a business lease:

  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (Part II) –
    • Application of 1954 Act.
    • Renewal lease by the tenant.
    • Termination by the landlord.
    • Landlord’s grounds of opposition.
    • Terms of new lease.

Essential Principles of Planning Law in England and Wales

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.

Property Taxation

Stamp Duty Land Tax in England and Land Transaction Tax in Wales:

  • Basis of charge in both England and Wales for:
    • Residential property.
    • Non-residential freehold property.

Value Added Tax:

  • Basis of charge:
    • What constitutes a taxable supply.
    • Differences between standard, exempt and zero-rated supplies.
  • Reasons why a client would make an option to tax and the effect that has.

Capital Gains Tax:

  • Basis of charge.
  • Principal private dwelling-house exemption.

Wills and Intestacy

Validity of wills and codicils:

  • Testamentary capacity.
  • Duress and undue influence.
  • Formal requirements.

Personal Representatives:

  • The appointment of executors.
  • Renunciation and reservation of power.

Alterations and amendments to wills:

  • Effect of alterations made to wills both before and after execution.
  • Use of codicils.

Revocation of wills:

  • Methods of revocation.
  • Effect of marriage and divorce of a testator.

The interpretation of wills:

  • Effect of different types of gift.
  • Failure of gifts.

The intestacy rules:

  • Section 46 of The Administration of Estates Act 1925.
  • The statutory trusts.

Property passing outside the estate:

  • Joint property.
  • Life policies.
  • Pension scheme benefits.
  • Trust property.

Probate and Administration Practice

Grants of representation:

  • Need for grant.
  • The relevant provisions of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules.
  • Application procedure.
  • Valuation of assets and liabilities.
  • Excepted estates.
  • Methods of funding the initial payment of Inheritance Tax.
  • Burden and incidence of Inheritance Tax.

Administration of estates:

  • Duties of personal representatives.
  • Liabilities of personal representatives and their protection.
  • The sale of assets to raise funds to pay funeral expenses, tax, debts, and legacies.
  • Distribution of the estate.

Claims against estates under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975:

  • Time limit.
  • Applicants.
  • Ground.

Taxation – Wills and the Administration of Estates

Inheritance Tax:

  • Lifetime transfers that are immediately chargeable and those that are potentially exempt.
  • Transfers on death.
  • Exemptions and reliefs.
  • The scope of anti-avoidance provisions.

Income and Capital Gains Tax in respect of the period of the administration of an estate:

  • The personal representatives’ liability to Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
  • The beneficiaries’ liability to Capital Gains Tax on inherited assets.

Solicitors Accounts

Client money:

  • Definition.
  • Requirement to pay client money into a client account.
  • Circumstances in which client money may be withheld from a client account.
  • Repayment.
  • Accounting entries required.

Client account:

  • Meaning and name of account.
  • Obligation not to use client account to provide banking facilities.
  • Withdrawals and accounting entries required.

Requirement to keep client money separate from money belonging to the authorized body.

Interest:

  • Requirement to pay interest on client money.
  • Accounting entries required.

Breach of the SRA Accounts Rules:

  • Duty to correct breaches of SRA Accounts Rules promptly on discovery.
  • Accounting entries required.

Requirement to keep and maintain accurate records in client ledgers, including requirement to carry out reconciliation of client accounts and to keep a record of bills to include:

  • Disbursements using the agency and principal methods.
  • Transfers.
  • Submission, reduction, and payment of bills including the VAT element.
  • Accounting entries required.

Operation of joint account; operation of a client’s own account.

Third-party managed accounts.

Obtaining and delivery of accountants’ reports; storage and retention of accounting records.

Core Principles of Land Law

Nature of Land:

  • Distinction between real property and personal property.
  • How to acquire and transfer legal estates.
  • How to acquire and dispose of legal and equitable interests in land.
  • Methods to protect and enforce third party interests.
  • Different ways in which land can be held.
  • Legal formalities required to create and transfer interests and estates in land.

Title to Land:

  • Registration of title to land:
    • Estates that can be substantively registered.
    • How to protect interests.
    • Interests that override registration and interests that need to be protected on the register.
  • Core principles of unregistered title to land:
    • Role of title deeds.
    • Land Charges.
    • Continuing role of doctrine of notice.

Co-ownership and Trusts:

  • Differences between joint tenants and tenants in common in law and in equity.
  • Rule of survivorship.
  • Severance of joint tenancies.
  • Solving disagreements between co-owners by reference to sections 14 and 15 of Trusts of Land & Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.

Proprietary Rights:

  • Essential characteristics of easements.
  • Methods for creation of easements.
  • Rules for the passing of the benefit and burden of freehold covenants.
  • Mortgages, including enforceability of terms, priority of mortgages, lender’s powers and duties, and protection of mortgagors and other third parties with an interest in the land.

Leases:

  • Relationship between landlord and tenant in a lease.
  • Essential characteristics of a lease including the difference between a lease and a licence.
  • Privity of contract and privity of estate.
  • Rules for the passing of the benefit and burden of leasehold covenants and enforceability.
  • Purpose and effect of an alienation covenant.
  • Remedies for breach of leasehold covenants (including forfeiture).
  • Different ways a lease can be terminated.

Core principles of trust law

Creation and requirements of express trusts:

  • The three certainties of intention, subject matter and objects:
    • Fixed interest trusts.
    • Discretionary trusts.
  • Formalities to create express inter vivos trusts.
  • Constitution of express inter vivos trusts and exceptions to the rule that equity will not assist a volunteer.

Beneficial entitlement:

  • Fixed, discretionary, vested, contingent interests.
  • The rule in Saunders v Vautier.

The distinction between charitable trusts and non-charitable purpose trusts.

Resulting trusts:

  • How they arise and when they are (or are not) presumed.

Trusts of the family home:

  • Establishment of a common intention constructive trust:
    • Legal title in the name of both parties/sole party.
    • Express declaration or agreement as to equitable ownership.
    • Direct and indirect contributions.
  • Requirements to establish proprietary estoppel.

Liability of strangers to the trust:

  • Establishing recipient liability.
  • Establishing accessory liability.

The fiduciary relationship and its obligations:

  • Duty not to profit from fiduciary position.
  • Trustees not to purchase trust property.
  • Fiduciary not to put himself in a position where his interest and duty conflict.

Trustees:

  • Who can be a trustee; appointment, removal and retirement of trustees.
  • Trustees’ duty of care.
  • Trustees’ duty to invest (and powers in relation to investment).
  • Trustees’ statutory powers of maintenance and advancement.

Trustees’ liability:

  • Breach of trust.
  • Measure of liability.
  • Protection of trustees.
  • Limitation period.

The nature of equitable remedies and the availability of tracing in equity.

Core principles of criminal liability

The core principles of criminal liability relating to the specified criminal offences listed below:

Specified criminal offences:

  • Offences against the person:
    • Common assault: assault and battery.
    • s. 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
    • s. 20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
    • s. 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
  • Theft offences:
    • s. 1 Theft Act 1968.
    • s. 8 Theft Act 1968.
    • s. 9 Theft Act 1968.
    • s. 10 Theft Act 1968.
  • Criminal damage:
    • Simple criminal damage.
    • Aggravated criminal damage.
    • Arson.
  • Homicide:
    • Murder.
    • Voluntary manslaughter.
    • Involuntary manslaughter (unlawful act manslaughter, manslaughter by gross negligence).
  • Fraud:
    • By false representation.
    • By abuse of position.
    • By failing to disclose.

Definition of the offence:

Actus Reus:

  • It refers to the physical act of the crime or the failure to act (omission) that comprises part of a crime.
  • It must be a voluntary act that results in a particular consequence.

Mens Rea:

  • It refers to the mental element of a crime.
  • Includes various states of mind such as intention, recklessness, negligence, or knowledge.

General defences:

Intoxication:

  • May serve as a defense if it prevents the defendant from forming the necessary mens rea for the offence.
  • Can be voluntary or involuntary, each with different implications.

Self-defence/Defence of another:

  • A person may use reasonable force to defend himself or another person.
  • The force used must be proportionate to the threat.

Partial defences:

Loss of control:

  • This can reduce a murder charge to manslaughter if it is proven that the defendant lost self-control and this led to the killing.
  • It must be a loss of control from a qualifying trigger and a person of the same sex and age would have reacted similarly.

Diminished responsibility:

  • It applies when the defendant was suffering from an abnormality of mental functioning which caused or was a significant contributory factor in causing him to carry out the act.
  • It can reduce a murder charge to manslaughter.

Parties:

Principal offender:

  • The individual who actually commits the crime.

Accomplices:

  • People who assist or encourage the principal offender, but do not actually commit the crime themselves.

Inchoate offences:

Attempt to commit an offence:

  • An offence in which the defendant has the intention to commit a specific crime and takes some action towards its completion, but does not succeed in committing the crime.

Advising clients, including vulnerable clients, about the procedure and processes at the police station

Rights of a suspect being detained by the police for questioning:

  • Right to legal advice: This includes the right to consult with a solicitor privately at any time, and to have a solicitor present during the interview.
  • Right to have someone informed of arrest: The suspect has the right to inform someone that they have been arrested.
  • Reviews and detention time limits under PACE 1984, Code C: These provide guidelines on how long a suspect can be held in custody before charge.

Identification procedures:

  • When an identification procedure must be held: Usually when the suspect disputes their identification.
  • Different types of identification procedure: These can include video identification, identification parades, group identification, and confrontation.
  • Procedure for carrying out an identification procedure PACE 1984, Code D: Outlines the correct procedures for conducting identification.

Advising a client, including vulnerable clients, whether to answer police questions:

  • Right to silence: Suspects have the right not to say anything that may incriminate themselves.
  • Adverse inferences: These can be drawn if a suspect chooses not to answer a question, and then later relies on a fact in court that they did not mention when questioned.

Procedure for interviewing a suspect under PACE 1984:

  • Role and appropriate conduct by defence legal representative/ solicitor including representation of vulnerable client: They must ensure their client's rights are protected, provide appropriate advice, and ensure that interviews are conducted fairly.
  • Role of appropriate adult and who can be an appropriate adult: An appropriate adult is required when a vulnerable suspect is being interviewed. This can be a family member, friend or social worker.

The procedures and processes involved in criminal litigation

Bail applications:

  • Right to bail and exceptions: Generally, a person has the right to be released on bail unless there are substantial grounds for believing they will fail to surrender, commit an offence while on bail, or interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice.
  • Conditional bail: This is where the person released on bail must comply with certain conditions, such as living at a particular address or reporting regularly to a police station.
  • Procedure for applying for bail: This involves making an application to the court, either in writing or orally at a hearing.
  • Further applications for bail: If bail is refused, further applications can be made if there is a change in circumstances.
  • Appeals against decisions on bail: A defendant can appeal a refusal of bail or the conditions of bail to a higher court.
  • Absconding and breaches of bail: If a person fails to comply with their bail conditions or does not surrender to custody as required, they can be arrested and face further charges.

First hearings before the magistrates’ court:

  • Classification of offences: Offences can be classified as summary offences (heard in a magistrates' court), indictable offences (heard in a Crown Court), or either-way offences (can be heard in either court).
  • Applying for a representation order: This is an application for legal aid to cover the costs of representation in court.
  • Procedural overview – what will happen at the hearing: This involves the reading of the charges, the entering of a plea, and the decision on bail.
  • Role of the defence solicitor at the hearing: The solicitor represents the defendant, advises them on their plea and legal strategy, and makes applications and arguments on their behalf.

Plea before Venue:

  • Procedure on defendant entering plea: If a defendant pleads guilty, the court will usually proceed to sentencing. If they plead not guilty, a trial date will be set.
  • Advising the client on trial venue: For either-way offences, the solicitor will advise the client on whether to opt for trial by magistrates or by jury in the Crown Court.

Allocation of business between magistrates' court and Crown Court:

  • Procedure ss. 19–20 and s. 22A Magistrates' Courts Act 1980: The magistrates' court decides whether an either-way offence is suitable for summary trial or should be sent to the Crown Court.
  • Sending without allocation s. 50A and s. 51 Crime and Disorder Act 1998: Certain either-way offences can be sent straight to the Crown Court without a decision on allocation.

Case management and pre-trial hearings:

  • Magistrates' court case management directions: These set out the steps that must be taken before a trial, such as the disclosure of evidence and witness statements.
  • Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing: This is a hearing in the Crown Court at which the defendant is asked to enter a plea and the judge makes directions for the trial.
  • Disclosure – prosecution, defence and unused material: The prosecution must disclose all material evidence to the defence, including any evidence that may assist the defendant's case. The defence must also disclose their case and evidence to the prosecution.

Principles and procedures to admit and exclude evidence:

  • Burden and standard of proof: The prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The defendant is not required to prove their innocence.
  • Visual identification evidence and Turnbull guidance: In cases involving identification, the court should be careful to avoid mistakes and must give special warnings to the jury.
  • Inferences from silence ss. 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994: The court may draw adverse inferences from a defendant's failure to mention facts when questioned or give evidence, but this cannot by itself prove guilt.
  • Hearsay evidence: This is evidence of a statement made out of court, which is generally not admissible unless it falls under one of the exceptions.
  • Confession evidence: This is evidence of a statement by the defendant admitting the offence. It is generally admissible unless it was obtained unfairly or is unreliable.
  • Character evidence: This is evidence about the defendant's character, including previous convictions. It is generally not admissible unless it is relevant to the issues in the case.
  • Exclusion of evidence: Evidence can be excluded if its admission would have an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings, under s. 78 PACE 1984.

Trial procedure in magistrates’ court and Crown Court:

  • Burden and standard of proof: The prosecution bears the burden of proof, and they must establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Stages of a criminal trial: A trial generally consists of jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instructions, deliberation, and verdict. Submission of no case to answer occurs when the defense argues that the prosecution's evidence, even if believed, is insufficient to convict.
  • Modes of address and courtroom etiquette: Proper conduct, respectful behavior, and specific ways to address the court and others are expected within a courtroom.
  • Difference between leading and non-leading questions: A leading question suggests the answer within the question, while non-leading questions do not.
  • Competence and compellability: Competence refers to a witness's legal eligibility to testify, while compellability concerns whether a witness can be legally compelled to testify.
  • Special measures: These are measures to help vulnerable and intimidated witnesses give their best evidence in court and help to relieve some of the stress associated with giving evidence.
  • Solicitor’s duty to the court: The solicitor has a duty to act with integrity, not to mislead the court, to be honest, and to maintain the confidentiality of client information.

Sentencing:

  • Role of sentencing guidelines: These guidelines help to ensure consistent sentencing. Judges consider them when determining the appropriate sentence for a conviction.
  • Determining seriousness, including aggravating and mitigating facts: Aggravating factors can increase the sentence, while mitigating factors can reduce it.
  • Concurrent and consecutive sentences: Concurrent sentences are served at the same time, while consecutive sentences are served one after the other.
  • Mitigation: This involves presenting facts or circumstances that may result in a lesser sentence.
  • Types of sentence: There are different types, including custodial (prison), suspended (not enforced unless a further crime is committed), and community orders (non-custodial, such as unpaid work or curfews).
  • Newton hearings: These occur when the prosecution and defense cannot agree on a factual basis for sentencing after a guilty plea or verdict.

Appeals procedure:

  • Appeals from the magistrates’ court: A person can appeal against a conviction or sentence to the Crown Court. Alternatively, a point of law can be referred to the High Court by way of case stated.
  • Appeals from the Crown Court: Appeals go to the Court of Appeal, and can be based on a point of law, the severity of the sentence, or a claim that the conviction is unsafe.

Youth court procedure:

  • Jurisdiction and grave crimes: Youth Courts deal with young people aged 10-17. Grave crimes can be transferred to the Crown Court.
  • Allocation: Jointly charged youths and adults will typically be heard together in an adult court unless it’s in the interest of justice to do otherwise.
  • Sentencing: The guidelines prioritize the welfare of the child, with options including referral orders, detention and training orders, and youth rehabilitation orders.

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