Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings
‘It is clear that tribunal members respond positively to his well thought-out and clearly presented arguments. In what was a very difficult time, it was reassuring to know that my case was being dealt with by an expert in this field.’ Client feedback for Robert Forman published in Chambers UK 2017
I’ve been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, what do I do?
If the SRA has referred your conduct to the SDT, you can usually expect to wait around six months before receiving formal papers.
If we’ve not already been acting for you, it’s worth sending us the papers to review, as it may be necessary to begin gathering evidence now. This is particularly important if expert medical evidence, for example, of mental health issues, is required.
I’ve been served with papers, what next?
You’ll receive papers by post or DX from the SDT including the SRA’s formal application, a supporting statement known as a ‘Rule 5 statement’, and standard directions issued by the SDT.
The standard directions impose tight deadlines on you to file an ‘Answer’; effectively a pleading. The content of your Answer can be crucial to the outcome of the proceedings.
Other directions will be given concerning disclosure, witness evidence, listing of the substantive hearing and various other administrative requirements. These directions can be varied, and the sooner you apply to vary them the more likely the SRA and SDT will agree.
From the outset we’ll be able to guide you on the likely outcome, and what steps you need to take to act in your best interest. That may involve making a without prejudice offer to the SRA, either for the withdrawal of the proceedings under a Regulatory Settlement Agreement, or for an Agreed Outcome, a form of Carecraft agreement, binding the SDT as to the outcome of the proceedings.
If the application proceeds to a substantive hearing, it will be heard before a panel of three, two solicitor members of the SDT and a lay member. The hearing proceeds in a similar fashion to civil court hearings, although the style is very different. Depending whether allegations are contested or evidence is disputed you may give evidence and be cross-examined.
Why choose us?
Our three-strong team has many years’ experience of representing solicitors and firms before the SDT. We conduct our advocacy in-house, ensuring your case is handled by someone who is an experienced specialist, understands the nuances of your case and cares about the outcome. There are likely to be cost savings too.
We believe that we have an excellent record in defending solicitors. We’ve achieved that by understanding when to admit and mitigate, and when to defend. Litigation at the SDT requires a very different style from court litigation; get your response wrong, and you’ll not be able to demonstrate insight, likely to increase the sanction.
You’ll see our name on a number of SDT judgments published online. We’re consistently ranked in Chambers & Legal 500, as well as receiving a number of awards. If you’re still not sure, take a look at our testimonials page, or ask us to provide a reference.