The Solicitors Regulation Authority has asked organisations pitching to train the UK’s lawyers to provide evidence of a credit rating which it is effectively impossible for them to obtain.

Earlier this year the SRA overruled objections from lawyers and pushed ahead with its plans for the SQE, a standardised exam for new solicitors which will replace the LPC and GDL. In its tender documents for organisations wishing to provide training for the SQE, under the heading of “Financial Standing”, it asks: “Can you provide a credit rating issued by Standards & Poor's indicating an AAA as the Baseline Credit Rating (or Dun and Bradstreet equivalent)? If yes, please attach your response".
The response is likely to be, “No. PS you cannot find your arse with both hands”. Neither of the companies which own the University of Law and BPP University, the two largest legal education providers, hold AAA ratings. ULaw’s parent company scores A- and BPP’s scores a B-. But even the UK government falls short. Last year it was downgraded from AAA to AA (with negative outlook).

In fact, the only private non-financial companies with AAA ratings in the entire world are Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson. The others are state-controlled businesses in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Given that Johnsons' talcum powder is made of cancer, it means that Windows 10 is now the SRA's front runner to train the next generation of lawyers.

  Clippy was a f**ker, but his financials were tiptop. 

The SRA’s demand that Standard & Poor's provide the credit rating is even more unrealistic, because nothing can obtain a rating from Standard & Poor's. Its parent company, McGraw Hill, changed its name to S&P Global in February 2016.

Rather than confess to sloppy work, a spokesman for the SRA said, “The financial stability of the assessment organisation we eventually contract with is critically important for the SQE"*. He said, "Stakeholders would expect us to have robust requirements"** and vowed, "We will scrutinise the credit rating of the bidding organisations carefully as part of our evaluation of their financial standing". He added, "We have been talking to potential bidders to make sure they are clear exactly what we are looking for in this area”***. The cock-up will probably not convince SQE's critics that the SRA has total mastery of its flagship, once-in-a-generation project to remake the profession.

Pressed by RollOnFriday to admit to the balls-up, he said, "We think it is right that we aspire to the highest standards", adding mysteriously, "we are not in a position to share further detail on this at this stage". Get ready for Clippy.

*though not so critically important that it got any of it right.
**so robust that they are impossible to achieve!
***a rating higher than God from a body that doesn't exist.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 08 September 17 09:31

Good job RoF on exposing the utter hopelessness of the SRA. an utter embarrassment to the profession.

Anonymous 08 September 17 10:27

How could anyone checking this before issuing it let it go out in the tender requirements? It gives the appearance that they have no idea what they are doing. They should subscribe to International Trade Finance journal.

Roll On Friday 08 September 17 10:29

Even this is not great to change dates within procurement timetables. One bidder can be working to one date and then it is changed.

"Update, Friday 11 August, 2017

We have decided that, to give all bidders a fair opportunity to submit their proposals, we will allow an additional three weeks for bidders to submit their outline solutions. This is in response to potential bidders experiencing logistical difficulties caused by the summer holiday.

We are writing to notify prospective bidders of this change to the timetable.

All final bids will now therefore have to be submitted in accordance with the process specified in the Invitation to Submit an Outline Solution (ISOS) by 12 noon on Friday, 22 September 2017.

Roll On Friday 08 September 17 10:54

SRA letting fraudsters onto the roll and demonstrating a horrifying lack of commercial awareness. Has it ever actually helped anyone ever?

Anonymous 08 September 17 11:33

To those who can, do.

To those who can't, regulate.

Anonymous 08 September 17 13:14

"...a rating higher than God from a body that doesn't exist." Love this.

Anonymous 08 September 17 21:03

What a shambles. The SRA are out of touch on so many issues.... and they lecture us on competency! A broken organisation. Total lack of competency and credibility. So looks like it's Microsoft to run the assessments! Strange there is no mention of Kaplan here... what is their credit rating?

Anonymous 10 September 17 13:01

Also shows their utter irrelevance to City law. If anyone at the SRA had even a passing exposure to the City, they would have known enough to query.

Anonymous 10 September 17 19:22

Before being too critical of the SRA on this one, perhaps pause to consider that the tender pack (which is substantial - see the link the article) will almost certainly have been put together with substantial assistance from external solicitors. Assuming that the external solicitors were asked to populate that field, they really should have questioned it, on the basis that they have probably drawn up more tender documents than the SRA have - and providing that sort of advice is definitely part of our job.

And, not to be a killjoy, whilst this is a semi-amusing story, it's a small mistake that can easily be made by someone who hasn't done 54 procurements in the last 4 years. The SRA is pretty annoying, and the SQE is beyond stupid, but I wouldn't hold up the insertion of an incorrect credit rating in a tender pack schedule as being a very useful data point in the analysis of the SRA's incompetence or otherwise.

Anonymous 11 September 17 18:24

That's all well and good, 18.22, except for the fact that the sra doesn't say it was a mistake. They say they meant to ask for an impossible rating. So unfortunately your excuse on their behalf doesn't apply.

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