The Solicitors Regulation Authority may be breaking the law if it fails to provide the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) in Welsh, a legal academic has warned. David Dixon, senior lecturer at Cardiff University’s school of law and politics, said: ‘The Welsh Government has lobbied the SRA for the SQE to be provided in Welsh in Wales but so far none of this lobbying has been effective.’
An SRA spokesperson said the regulator is ‘actively considering’ a Welsh language version for the exam, due to be introduced in 2021, but that no decision has been made.
The Schedules in the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 requires institutions, such as universities and regulators, to provide assessments in Welsh if there is demand for them. Students taking their undergraduate, GDL and LPC assessments in Wales, for example, are entitled to sit them in Welsh and to have these assessments credited towards their qualification as a solicitor.
However Kaplan, the educational organisation behind the SQE, and the SRA has yet to be explicitly included in the measure. However the Welsh government is expected to add them, obliging the SRA to provide the assessment in Welsh.
The maximum penalty for breaching the measure is a fine of £5,000.
Dixon said that the SRA might find it cheaper to pay the fine than translate the paper. However he added: ’What sort of example would the SRA set if they, as a regulator, broke the law so brazenly?’