Working with foreign lawyers—the Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL) regime

The following Practice Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Working with foreign lawyers—the Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL) regime
  • Becoming a Registered Foreign Lawyer
  • When a foreign lawyer needs to register as a Registered Foreign Lawyer
  • When a foreign lawyer does not need to register as a Registered Foreign Lawyer
  • Who can become an RFL?
  • How to register as an RFL
  • Working as an SRA-Registered Foreign Lawyer
  • What can an RFL do?
  • Restrictions on an RFL’s activities
  • Compliance with the SRA Standards and Regulations
  • More...

Working with foreign lawyers—the Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL) regime

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) operates a registration regime for foreign lawyers. Once registered, a registered foreign lawyer (RFL) is able to become a manager or owner of a law firm with solicitor managers/owners. The SRA Authorisation of Individuals Regulations set out the SRA’s requirements for registration as an RFL. The SRA has also published ethics guidance for RFLs on their obligations.

This Practice Note sets out the registration regime for foreign lawyers working in SRA-regulated law firms as RFLs, why registration may be required and how to go about getting registered. It also sets out the continuing obligations for RFLs and the implications for firms working with RFLs. Swiss lawyers may be eligible to register as registered European lawyers (RELs)—see further Practice Note: Working with European lawyers—the Registered European Lawyer (REL) regime.

For a checklist of issues to consider when applying for registration as, or working with an RFL, see: Registered Foreign Lawyer (RFL)—Checklist.

Becoming a Registered Foreign Lawyer

When a foreign lawyer needs to register as a Registered Foreign Lawyer

It is not always necessary for a foreign lawyer to register as an RFL. An SRA-regulated firm or in-house employer may employ a foreign lawyer without them needing to be registered as an RFL, subject to the restrictions on practice below.

However, a foreign lawyer who wants to become a

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