The Welsh language will be placed on an equal footing with English under proposals published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
In its latest plans to cut red tape and reduce training costs, the regulator plans to give Welsh-only speaking solicitors the same right to practise in Wales as English-speaking solicitors.
Outcome 5 of the Training Regulations 2014 states that an individual qualifying as a solicitor will have achieved an appropriate standard of written and spoken English.
To reflect legislation including the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, and the status of Welsh as an official language of Wales, the SRA proposes to expand this outcome to include written and spoken Welsh.
The requirement will be that solicitors practising in Wales should have achieved an appropriate standard of written and spoken English or Welsh.
The consultation paper said: ‘This will enable us to meet our legal obligation not to treat Welsh-only speakers less favourably than English-only speakers.’
A Law Society spokesperson said: ‘The SRA is correcting an unlawful provision that the Wales Committee drew to their attention in March. We applaud them for doing so and look forward to examining the detail of the consultation.’
The same paper proposes removing requirements for qualified lawyers overseas to have a certificate issued by the SRA confirming their eligibility to sit the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme Assessment (QLTS).
It also suggests removing the requirement for solicitors to undertake management course stage 1, allowing solicitors to choose when to undertake management training and to decide the level of training that they need.
The SRA will also remove the regulation to undertake a separate English language test for non-EEA international applicants, which removes the restriction on the maximum number of assessment attempts permitted in a five-year period.
The regulator said the proposals are largely a consequence of recent changes made to education and training regulations in relation to student enrolment and CPD and reflect the need to ensure that other education and training requirements are consistent with those changes.
‘If adopted, they will remove unnecessary cost from the process of qualifying as a solicitor through the QLTS and from post-qualification training,’ said the SRA.
The regulator’s director of education and training Julie Brannan (pictured) said: ‘These proposals are part of our ongoing project to streamline training regulations and remove bureaucratic processes so as to focus our attention more rigorously on assuring standards. ’
The consultation closes on 17 November 2014 and can be read in full here.