Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
Facing the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) is a daunting prospect that can have severe consequences. The SDT will be involved when there has been a breach of the regulation that warrants a full tribunal hearing.
Such matters are often more complex and certainly more serious as minor breaches tend to be resolved by a Regulatory Settlement Agreement.
If facing an SDT hearing, getting the right guidance and support can be essential to ensure the outcome of the investigation is proportionate and correct. This is a specialist area and the consequences of getting the approach wrong can be severe.
The earlier in the process that you seek the guidance of experts, the better advised and prepared you will be. At The Strategic Partner, we work with and advise firms at the start of an investigation by the SRA or we can assist in representation at a Disciplinary Tribunal.
Law Firm Compliance
Are you or your firm facing referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal or has an investigation lead to a Regulatory Settlement Agreement negotiation?
Whether you have received notification of investigation or the investigation has been concluded and a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has been made, it is advisable to seek expert advice and guidance.
It is often better for us to be involved at the first intimation of an investigation as we will work with you to understand the reasons for the investigation, the facts, and the best path to take.
Solicitor Disciplinary Tribunal Services
An investigation into a firm and its conduct is a serious and worrying time and the referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal will intensify the issues that arise for both the individuals involved and the firm.
The SRA will apply a number of tests through an investigation to establish if a referral to the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal is necessary. For example: –
- Does the conduct breach our Standards and Regulations or meet the requirements for a control order?
- Does the evidence prove the conduct?
- Is the conduct serious enough for the Tribunal to make an order?
- Is the taking of action in the best interests of the Public?
If you have received a notice of investigation, The SRA has arrived at your premises or you have been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, you should contact us immediately on 0203 911 9710 and we will guide you on the initial steps to take.
The fundamental role of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is to assess the allegations of the SRA which they have uncovered in an investigation and make a decision if:
- There is no case to answer and no action to be taken
- The Solicitor should be prevented from practising through suspension or strike off
- If a fine should be imposed and the amount, which is unlimited
- Whether there should be restrictions imposed on a Solicitor’s practising certificate
- Restoring a Solicitor to the Roll
- Payment of costs of the investigation and hearing
Is your firm compliant?
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Referrals to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal can be made against:
- Employees of law firms
- Registered European and foreign Lawyers
Therefore, anyone working with or for a law firm can be caught by the Tribunal.
The process by which the Tribunal operates is similar in nature to formal court proceedings and hearings. The process will involve the serving of the allegation, reasons for denial, disclosure and discovery, and a hearing. The Tribunal will give orders and directions to control the conduct of the parties throughout the process.
A Respondent to the allegations made must act in a timely manner and comply with all directions or risk-averse risks of the failure to comply. Working with an expert to guide you through the process and ensure the matter is properly conducted is essential.
It may also occur through the proceedings that the SRA and the respondent find a solution to resolve the issues without the need to proceed to a formal hearing. This is known as a Regulatory Settlement Agreement.
This is a formal written agreement between the SRA and the Respondent which resolves all matters. It is a quicker and less expensive method by which issues can be resolved. The agreement itself will set the allegations and facts surrounding them and identify which have been agreed to and list the agreed sanctions which the solicitor has agreed to.
All negotiations will be without prejudice and if unsuccessful the Disciplinary proceedings will continue. At The Strategic Partner, together with our legal team, we will work with you and the SRA, if a Regulatory Settlement Agreement is appropriate, to secure an agreement in the best possible terms.