Junior lawyers threaten to escalate SQE results fiasco to LSB

The Junior Lawyers Division has threatened to go to the Legal Services Board if lessons are not learnt from a results fiasco that saw 175 candidates wrongly told they had failed the Solicitors Qualifying Examination.

In a LinkedIn post last Friday, the JLD said it had met the Solicitors Regulation Authority and SQE assessment provider Kaplan to clarify what actions are being taken to rectify the issues caused.

The JLD said the £250 ‘goodwill payment’ was not enough. ‘The costs of the SQE are being increased by 5% from September 2024 and the cost of a final appeal for candidates is £850. We cannot accept how the goodwill payment has been quantified and do not believe that it has been given adequate consideration. We note that the goodwill payment is separate from that of compensation for any losses incurred’, the JLD said.

‘Several’ of the 175 candidates have approached the JLD. Some had their training contracts rescinded and some have been reinstated. The SRA will perform a ‘full review’ and implement changes before the July SQE1 sitting and Kaplan has committed to appointing an independent reviewer as soon as possible.

However, JLD said an ‘error of this magnitude’ should never have occurred and it had serious concerns over the ability of Kaplan and the SRA to conduct the SQE. ‘This is not the first time that errors have been made and apologies have been issued. Both the SRA and Kaplan have committed to keeping an open dialogue with us, and if changes are not implemented, we will see to escalate the matter to the Legal Services Board.’

An SRA spokesperson told the Gazette that Kaplan commissioned an independent review in April to provide further verification and reassurance to candidates of the reissued marks and this has now been completed. Independent experts will shortly be appointed to conduct a wider review of the event ‘so we can learn lessons and take steps to ensure this does not happen again’.

A ‘handful’ of candidates had their training contracts ‘deferred’. The spokesperson said: ‘We have already agreed compensation with some of these and are in discussions with a small number of other candidates to get the information needed to progress their cases. We are not aware of any candidates who have had their contract rescinded and not reinstated as a result of the issue.’

The spokesperson said the regulator will work with Kaplan to implement any required improvements following the review.


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