SDT Appeals to the Administrative Court
The Administrative Court carries out judicial reviews made by other courts and public bodies to make sure that their decisions and rulings are consistent with the law. This procedure is known as a ‘judicial review’ and it can result in a number of outcomes.
Before the SDT Appeal
Appeals against decisions of the SDT are heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Administrative Court. Typically, the hearing is listed before a single, or two High Court judges. The hearing is usually listed to a single judge or a divisional court (where there’s more than one judge).
Both you and the SRA have 21 days from SDT’s detailed Judgment to issue an appeal setting out Grounds of Appeal. The Respondent may cross-appeal, or seek to have the SDT’s decision upheld on alternative grounds.
Will the Appeal be successful?
The Administrative Court will not interfere with the SDT’s decision as an informed expert tribunal unless there has been a procedural error, or the decision is plainly wrong. Generally, there are three standards that appeals focus on: legal error, abuse of discretion, and substantial evidence. Even though individual judges may interpret the test differently, this system is entirely independent of Government and its administration.
When will the Appeal be heard?
The appeal will enter the Warned List before being listed to be heard around three to five months after issue. Prior to the hearing both parties file and serve Skeleton Arguments and an Authorities bundle.
What range of decisions can the appeal court make?
First and foremost it will decide whether to quash the first instance decision of the SDT. If it does so, it may then dismiss the SRA’s case, substitute its own sanction, or remit the case back to the SDT on any number of points.
Unlike in the SDT, usually the losing party is ordered to pay all or a proportion of the winning party’s costs.
Why choose us?
Considering whether to appeal, and how to respond to an SRA appeal involves fine decisions. If the SDT’s order is quashed, whether you seek to have the case remitted back to the SDT or ask the court to make an order also involves a fine balancing exercise.
come what may, we have the specialist experience to guide you on these important decisions.
Two Examples of Successful Appeals:
Solicitors Regulation Authority v Kadurugamuwa  EWHC 2245 (Admin) – Successfully defended appeal against an SDT order
This solicitor had been fined £2,000 by the SDT following a criminal conviction and suspended custodial sentence for a money laundering offence. The SRA appealed on the ground that the sanction was unduly lenient.
We were recommended to the solicitor by another firm, and she instructed us to act. We advised her to resist the appeal.
The Administrative Court upheld the SDT’s decision and ordered the SRA to pay her costs as summarily assessed.
The SRA applied for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. After hearing from us, the court refused the SRA permission.
Kiani v Solicitors Regulation Authority  EWHC 1981 (Admin) (QBD (Admin)) – Successful appeal against SDT decision to strike off a solicitor
This solicitor instructed another firm to act for her at the SDT where she was struck from the Roll. She came to us asking whether she had grounds for appeal. We immediately spotted that the Tribunal had erred procedurally and she instructed us to act in her appeal.
The Administrative Court agreed that the SDT had erred, quashed the decision, and upon being persuaded to do so, remitted the case back to the SDT before a freshly constituted tribunal.
Upon remission, the fresh tribunal imposed a backdated period of suspension, expiring well before the hearing, such that she was able to practise again with immediate effect.
The Administrative Court ordered the SRA to pay almost 100% of the Respondent’s solicitor’s costs and the SDT made no order as to costs.
‘Murdochs Solicitors provides ‘reliable, detailed, and robust advice’ in defending solicitors and other legal professionals facing investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The practice’s experience extends to … appeals to the Administrative Court’ Legal 500 UK 2017
'Niche team specialising in defence of solicitors' professional discipline proceedings. … Experienced in providing advice on … appeals.’ Chambers UK 2020
'Robert Forman has forged an outstanding reputation at the forefront of the legal services regulatory sector, due to his excellent track record defending legal professionals in SDT proceedings, as well as SRA investigations and appeals to the Administrative Court.' Chambers UK 2020
If you want us on your team, e-mail or speak to Andrew Blatt on 07973 752498, Robert Forman on 07976 562236 or Nick Trevette on 07976 795014.