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What is ‘non-reserved’ and ‘reserved’ legal activity?

Mar 04 2015

A recent article in the Law Society Gazette contains some interesting facts about the regulation of solicitors.  It points out that 85% of legal services by volume relate to non-reserved activities.  So these services can be delivered by non-solicitors.  It’s only when delivered by solicitors that clients can have any confidence that they are being regulated.    

We thought it might be helpful to have a reminder of what is meant by ‘reserved’ legal activities.  We have several lawyers in our office and between us we weren’t confident that we could remember them all. 

The six reserved activities are listed at Section 12 and Schedule 2 of the Legal Services Act 2007 (which came into force on 1 January 2009). The reserved activities are:

1.      The exercise of rights of audience

This is the right to appear before and address a court, including the right to call and examine witnesses appearing as an advocate before a court);

2.      The conduct of litigation

This is the right to issue proceedings in an court in England and Wales: prosecution and defence of such proceedings; performing any ancillary functions in relation to such proceedings

3.      Reserved instrument activities

This includes dealing with the transfer of land or property

4.      Probate activities

This means preparing any probate papers on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration.

5.      Notarial activities

This means activities which were previously carried on by virtue of enrolment as a notary in accordance with the Public Notaries Act 1801)

6.      Administration of oaths (

This means exercising the powers conferred on a commissioner for oaths, e.g. taking oaths and swearing affidavits


Any other legal services can be provided by a non-solicitor.