‘Omnishambles’: Law school bosses react to SQE exam fiasco

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By Thomas Connelly on


Mix of concern and anger

Senior figures at some of the country’s biggest law schools have responded to this morning’s news that nearly 200 aspiring lawyers were mistakenly told they had failed parts of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

Kaplan and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) today apologised for a calculation error that resulted in 175 students being informed that they had failed either Functioning Legal Knowledge 1 and/or Functioning Legal Knowledge 2 (the two parts of SQE1), when in fact they had passed.

A goodwill payment of £250 is being offered to those candidates for the “upset caused by this matter”.

Reacting to today’s news, Jonny Hurst, presenter of SQE TV, branded the situation an “omnishambles”.

“It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it?” he wrote on LinkedIn. “Some of these candidates will have lost training contracts, which may, after all, now be recoverable. Others will have incurred considerable financial losses, such as accommodation costs and cancelled course fees. And then there are those who may have made significant life decisions off the back of January’s SQE1 ‘fail’. All will have been put through unnecessary distress and anxiety and my heart goes out to each and every one of you.”

“As someone who has been in legal education for over 15 years, I can appreciate how easy it is for a small error to have such far-reaching consequences,” said Hurst.

“The compensation being offered to the affected candidates (£250) will be a drop in the ocean to most. It certainly won’t cover many of their financial losses or the untold negative affect on their mental health. Looks like the SQE is as tough to administer as it is to pass,” Hurst continued.

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In a statement to Legal Cheek, BPP’s dean, Jo-Anne Pugh, added, “We are aware of the error and are providing support to the affected students”.

Also reacting to the news, The University of Law‘s deputy vice-chancellor law, Professor Peter Crisp told us:

“Our concern is with those of our students whose future careers may have been impacted by this error. This includes those who may have been reliant on a positive result to secure a training contract. We are working closely with those students affected and our client firms to ensure they are appropriately supported.”

Meanwhile, BARBRI Global’s managing director Lucie Allen said she was concerned by today’s news and that “whilst this is positive for the students who have now passed, it is worrying that an error on this scale has happened”.

“Students will have been impacted in all sorts of ways which are significant and need to be thoroughly reviewed and understood,” she told Legal Cheek. “I am not sure the compensation offered addresses the extent of the repercussions experienced. BARBRI have put in place measures to support students and urge anyone impacted to reach out.

Finally, The College of Legal Practice issued a statement on LinkedIn expressing its deep disappointment, highlighting that the error will have greatly affected students’ wellbeing, confidence and finances. “We are seeing increased levels of anxiety both from our students and those thinking about taking the SQE and this will add to those concerns,” it said.

Dr Giles Proctor, the law school’s CEO, also commented on our coverage of the story.

“The latest from the Solicitors Regulation Authority in terms of their continuing problems with their running of the SQE, Proctor said. “Mistakes do occur and have quite rightly been addressed in this case. However, there is a wider issue emerging here around the dialogue from the SRA with firms, providers and students and how concerns are listened to and addressed.”

“More clear communication is needed and a sense of careful planning and discussion rather than just ploughing on with the same systems,” Proctor continued. “Otherwise, the really important stakeholders in all this, the students undergoing SQE, will continue to be under huge pressure and suffer from mistakes like this.”


Praise LC Overlords

Huge shout out to LC for covering this fiasco. I was afraid the issues with the SQE would never reach media recognition. You are truly doing God’s work by shining a light onto this catastrophe

Remember the LPC

What a mess this is

Schidiz Panz

Just like the underwear of those responsible right now!


Law schools don’t actually care, I’m convinced of it. I did the LLM (Bar) and many of us were sent invoices for fees and hounded for the money, despite not actually owing anything. Nothing was offered to apologise for the technical fault, their aggressive and threatening behaviour, or the stress and time used up dealing with it. Much the same with not implementing adjustments, or changing lessons last minute, or changing the exam content the weekend before the exam. No apologies, no compensation, nothing. Much the same even back doing the LLB. No course provider cares about you or your wellbeing once they’ve got your money. The government should be acting, but they’ve left it up to individual course providers to deal with things however they choose to. And sure, one could well say “well, sue them”, but very few people doing these courses will have the time or money to sue, and again, I’m certain the course providers are acutely aware of this too.


Yoiu are right. So many course providers rely on their assumed status as public providers of legal education and operate within a well understood community of educators. Many, however, are unstable private providers that are hard to make claims against. ‘Education’ is not a commodity like buying a computer. Students invest themseves in the process. But I would also ask what on earth has happened to the notion of ‘accreditation’, ie checking organsation are fit for purpose and, ideally, also accountable when things go wrong.

Sharon E

Isn’t that a misquote?? “Some of these candidates will have lost training contracts, which may, after all, NOW be recoverable…” Shouldn’t that read NOT RECOVERABLE as in, these poor individuals have lost training contracts that have now been taken by other individuals. What an absolute fiasco.


It’s truly disheartening to see the impact of the recent SQE mishap on students’ lives and aspirations. The apology and goodwill payment seem like small consolation for the distress and upheaval caused. It’s understandable if we are now feeling hesitant about taking the SQE in July given the recent events. The lack of clear communication and planning from the SRA is concerning, and it’s crucial for them to address these issues comprehensively to regain trust and ensure a smoother process moving forward. All concerns are valid, and it’s essential to prioritise students’ well-being and future career decisions amidst this uncertainty.

Litigation inquisitor

Can someone who sat SQE1 let us know if the Ts

Litigation inquisitor

Come on Legal Cheek you’ve chopped my comment. I was asking: can someone who sat SQE1 let us know if the Ts


Maybe it doesn’t like ampersands. If the terms contain a limited or excluded liability clause.

Junior Leachman

Those students 175 students who were told that they had failed the Solicitors Qualifying Examination which has resulted in many of them losing out on future employment, should now file a lawsuit against the exam body. They should also refuse to take the 250 pounds because that is a drop in the bucket. Not saying errors cannot be made but on this large scale, I do not think so. The exam body should now do a thorough assessment of the process that marks the SEQ1 and SEQ2 examinations and ensure that the fiasco doesn’t recur.


Does anyone know if they’ve identified ALL the errors in the marking/results process? Given that such a hefty error has been allowed to happen, there must surely be suspicion about whether there are other such errors lurking in the newly complicated marking/moderation system.
Those who have now been awarded a pass instead of a fail should retain their pass. The remainder, who have ‘failed’ should have their attempt wiped clean, along with a refund of the exam fee and a free entry to the next sitting.

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