SDT Appeals to the Administrative Court


Appeals from the SDT to the Administrative Court

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What is the time limit to appeal an SDT order?

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.

Where are SDT Appeals heard?

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.

Will the Appeal be successful?

The Administrative Court will be 'slow to interfere' with the SDT’s decision as an informed expert tribunal unless there has been a procedural error, or the decision is plainly wrong. In practice, individual judges interpret the test differently.

When will the Appeal be heard?

The appeal will enter the Warned List before being listed to be heard. The hearing could take place as soon as three months from issue, but could be delayed significantly, where the case addresses an important legal principle, or where otherwise the court has availability issues.

What range of decisions can the appeal court make?

The court will decide whether to quash the 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.

We have the specialist experience to guide you on these important decisions.

Examples of Appeals that we have acted in:

Solicitors Regulation Authority v James & Ors [2018] EWHC 3058 (Admin) - Clarifying the 'exceptional circumstances' test

In this appeal against three decisions of the SDT, we acted for two of the Respondent solicitors. Acting at the SDT, and conducting advocacy for them in-house, the solicitors were permitted to continue in immediate practice, notwithstanding findings of dishonesty. The SRA appealed against the orders of the SDT, whereupon the Administrative Court clarified when the SDT may be permitted to find that 'exceptional circumstances' arise and thus depart from the usual order of 'striking off' following a finding of dishonesty.

Solicitors Regulation Authority v Kadurugamuwa [2017] 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 [2015] 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.

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.

National Recognition & Testimonials

Niche team specialising in defence of solicitors' professional discipline proceedings...Experienced in providing advice on ... appeals.’ Chambers UK 2022

Robert Forman possesses a strong reputation within the legal services regulatory sector, due to his excellent track record defending legal professionals..."He's very personable, quick to respond, has great legal knowledge and provides very practical advice.""Robert is very much a solicitor's solicitor. He is pragmatic and adds value by having been close to the regulatory process for a number of years.""He's extremely sharp on the details of cases that can be very paper-heavy." Chambers UK 2022 

The 'small, highly effective team' at Murdochs Solicitors has longstanding experience in focusing almost exclusively on defending solicitors and other legal professionals facing regulatory investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Practice head and senior partner Andrew Blatt, who 'focuses on delivering a great result', specialises in SRA investigations, SDT proceedings... 'extremely knowledgeable' senior consultant Robert Forman, who is 'very much a solicitor's solicitor', is an expert in SRA and SDT proceedings; and director Nicholas Trevette is 'incredibly reassuring'. ‘This team really cares; they take the time to understand your issue properly. You never feel rushed and they always have your wellbeing at heart. As experts in this field, and with the firm only specialising in this area, they are technically excellent.‘ ‘Good, clear, honest advice from a small, highly effective team. Clients benefit from a highly personalised service and specialist advice; and they know they can speak to the team whenever they need to, and get top-quality, up-to-the minute advice. I highly recommend them.‘ ‘Dedicated almost solely to solicitors’ disciplinary matters, so that the team has a granular understanding of both the SRA and the SDT.‘ ‘A real open, friendly approach that left me feeling very comfortable and able to ask any questions/float any ideas.‘‘‘Senior consultant Robert Forman is very much a solicitor’s solicitor, and extremely knowledgeable and pragmatic in his approach. Nicholas Trevette was personable and easy to talk to – always on the end of the phone and incredibly reassuring.‘ Legal 500 UK 2022

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.