M K Soni Notaries Blog
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On 29th January 2014, Andrew Robinson and Manish Kumar Soni of this firm, attended the conference entitled "Training for Tomorrow" (or 'T4T') by the SRA at the Law Society in Chancery Lane. In particular we were interested to know if the proposed changes might make it easier to recognise 'pure' notaries (that is notaries who are not qualified as solicitors but as notaries only) so as to provide some clarity and exemptions for the process to qualify as solicitors.
The event lasted around 2 hours in which the team, consisting of the director of Education & Training and 2 of their SRA Policy executives, ran through the various proposals being introduced most likely from 1st July 2014 to reduce 'red-tape' in the solicitor qualification process. We certainly acknowledge that some of the proposals do warrant some merit. For example, the SRA seeks to remove the strict notion of a 'training contract' in favour of the requirement for 2 years' aggregated experience, across a minimum of 3 areas of law.
A concept of 'equivalent means' was stated to be coming in to replace the idea that an 'exceptional situation' is required for the purposes of allowing exemptions to the usual mode of qualification and practice in solicitor qualification.
Notaries are regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We are independent legal professionals with the right to practise, under law, conveyancing and probate, reserved instrument and reserved activities, respectively, in addition to notarial practice.
Manish Soni raised the point to the SRA Senior Policy Executive, Alison Pyatt, that currently there is simply no recognition in the SRA Training Regulations of notaries and whether the new proposals would assist any notaries to cross-qualify. Ms. Pyatt stated that an exercise of mapping notaries' qualifications and experience would be required on a case by case basis. No plan was in place to perform a basic framework of exemptions therefore.
It is submitted that the SRA needs to consider the qualifications of notaries in its new proposals as a test case of how its new exemptions and practice recognition element will operate. The very thing that the SRA is seeking to do, in allowing exemptions to be more easily recognised, as well as practical experience, appears to have left the team somewhat baffled when presented with the real-life scenario of notaries wishing to cross-qualify.
We at M K Soni Notaries hope that the SRA will actively engage other legal professions, such as ours, to promote cross-qualification and recognition moving forward.