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Application Stages

Most applications follow the steps below.

1. Applicants should verify the types of business and services we regulate are the extent of the services they intend the proposed business to provide. Once confirmed email the CLC Licensing Team on outlining key information about the business you intending to set up, listing:

    1. the reserved and non-reserved legal activities the business intends to offer; and
    2. the owners and their qualifications (if applicable); and
    3. the key personnel and their intended roles; and
    4. general information about the business, such as the source of set up funds (e.g. corporate or personal funds/sources of work)

2. Applicants are invited to attend a virtual meeting with the CLC Licensing Team when the CLC is satisfied in principle that the following can be met,

    1. the regulatory structures of a CLC Recognised Body or ABS; and
    2. the principle Authorised Persons occupational experience; and
    3. the business proposition is sufficiently developed.

Meetings are held on Microsoft Teams. It’s important that owners and managers attend this meeting because we will be discussing the investment and governance elements of your application and the associated authorisations and licences required for any key personnel. We will discuss the financial and regulatory viability and sustainability of the proposed business. In addition, we will explain the following documents and their importance in the application process together with what we expect from you.


3. Preparing the information that is needed for us to consider an application as ‘complete’. Please read the CLC’s guidance documents. Licensing Outcomes and Risk Agendas

a) PII

Prospective applicants must have obtained a quotation for professional indemnity insurance cover (PII) from an Insurer which is a signatory to the CLC Participating Insurance Agreement. Details of Insurers. The CLC encourages firms to seek quotes from more than one insurer.

  • SRA or CILEX Hive-Off applicants will need to obtain PII as this type of application involves establishing a new legal entity and licences.
  • SRA or CILEX firms applying to switch an existing law firm over to CLC regulation must obtain PII in the 90-day application processing period. Should a PII quote not materialise in the 90-days the application will be deemed incomplete; unless there are exceptional circumstances in which the applicant has obtained specific agreement from the CLC.

b) Specific requirements for licence holders and managers

Recognised Body owners are required to become CLC Lawyers. Requirements.

Alternative Business Structures (ABS) must have a HoLP and HoFA and any investors and owners (material interest), and officers of the legal entity will be required to make applications to be Authorised as CLC Registered Managers.

c) Fit and Proper Persons

This test applies to all applicants. In the event that an Authorised person is seeking to be a sole practitioner/sole proprietor they must also apply to be a CLC lawyer and the body application will be dependent on their ability to full the CLC lawyer Licensing Framework.  In which, prospective applicants that have not held a CLC licence before, must satisfy the CLC that they are 1 (C) a fit and proper person to practise as a CLC lawyer (see item 8.22 of the Licensed Body (ABS) Licensing Framework for an overview of the type of factors taken into account when applying the fit and proper test); comprising identity, financial, sanctions and criminality screening checks, and regulatory and disciplinary checks. See CLC Guidance for Practice Registrants.

4. Having obtained a compliant PII quotation, email finalising the ownership structure and key personnel and request the application forms. Please provide the full names and email addresses for all relevant individuals so that we can issue the individual application forms and nominate a ‘practice application lead’ to receive the practice application and for us to direct any subsequent enquiries to. Application forms are issued through the platform DocuSign which provides a secure repository for your information.


5. Application acceptance and review. Before accepting an application, we will:

    1. Make a preliminary standard documentation check of the practice application and all associated individual applications to verify that mandatory documents have been provided.
    2. Carry out completeness screening (practice and individuals’ applications); this will involve us verifying mandatory documentation, eligibility, and applying the fit and proper tests. At this point we will invoice for the re-charge fee set by Giant, the CLC’s screening agent. Who will contact applicants directly to carry out some of the screening checks, such as sanctions and criminal checks.
    3. Application acceptance. If all the above screening and tests in (2) meet to the CLC satisfaction, the practice application will be accepted and enter the formal review period. When any of the checks in (2) are not met this will be considered a material omission and the application(s) (Practice and individual) will be considered incomplete.
    4. If you application is accepted, we will ask you to pay all the associated practice and individual application fees.
    5. Application review. Take up to 90 days. We will email the nominated application lead with any enquiries that we may have. Typically, these will fall into three areas:- our finance, governance, and compliance. If any aspects of the application is considered complex we will email you as processing your application may take longer than 90-days. The CLC does not routinely provide progress updates.


6. The Licensing decision. Once the review period is completed a Licensing Recommendation is then put before the Licensing Panel. The Licensing Panel is made up of a least two members of the Senior Leadership Team. The recommendation outcome is focused on an assessment of the ability of the owners, managers, and key personnel to provide compliant legal services and manage the risks associated to the legal services. Our licensing decision structure is explained in our Guidance documentation.


7. Informing you of the outcome of your application: We will confirm the CLC’s licensing decision by email. If the application is refused, we will write to you to explain the basis of our refusal. You have the right to Appeal. How to APPEAL. When an application is granted, there will be number steps to complete before a practice licence and any associated individual authorisations can be issued.

Our strong recommendation is that prospective applications familiarise themselves with all guidance and published information, so that you are fully aware of the processes and timescales involved.