All new solicitors will soon have to submit to criminal records checks, the Law Society's newly-established Regulation Board has decided.

Disclosure of convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the police national computer will be required by everyone seeking admission as a solicitor in England and Wales from September.

Until now those wishing to join the profession have been trusted to tell the truth when asked about their character and suitability to become a solicitor. In future more than 5,000 applicants a year will each have to pay a fee of ?47 for Criminal Records Bureau checks.

The change in policy means that lawyers who failed to disclose convictions or acts of plagiarism when they enrolled as students may find themselves barred when they seek to join the profession at the end of their three-year study-and-training period.

The Regulation Board said it might be prepared to overlook one-off minor convictions acquired while an applicant was young, but failure to own up would cast doubt on whether a would-be solicitor was trustworthy and honest.

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